Tips & Tricks

Christmas Tree Disposal: A Guide to Responsibly Throwing Out or Recycling Your Tree

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The gifts are unwrapped, your recycling can is overflowing with wrapping paper, and you’re fresh out of eggnog – the holidays are over, and you’re ready to finally get some time away from your extended family and let the holidays rest in peace. Taking down your decorations and throwing away the mountain of torn wrapping paper is easy, but disposing of your Christmas tree seems to be a more daunting task – even though it doesn’t have to be.

There are plenty of options for disposing of your tree – but make sure that before you pursue any of them, you remove all decorations and lights from your tree. The last thing you want is a mild electrical fire while trying to get rid of the giant dry tree in your living room.

Here are some easy ways to dispose of your Christmas tree:

How to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

Call on the Scouts

Not only do many Boy or Girl Scout troops sell Christmas trees, they also offer pickup. If you find an envelope left on your door in mid-December, it’s likely from your local troop – just fill out a few pieces of information (and if you’d like, write a check donating to their troop), then leave it on your doorknob. They’ll come by on the appointed date and pick it up from your curb, so all you need to do is bring your old Christmas tree outside.

Give Back to Mother Nature by Recycling

The easiest place to recycle your tree? Your local recycling center. Check on your local waste management or recycling center’s website to see if they’re allowing you to drop off your tree. If they are allowing them, chances are, they’re letting you drop them off free of a dump fee. And should you need help getting your tree to the center, get Dolly to come lend a hand (and a truck). And for a limited time this holiday season, Chicagoans can get their Christmas tree picked up for recycling by Dolly for just $25.

Find a Nonprofit Christmas Tree Collector

While the Boy Scouts can come pick up your tree if you arrange in advance, many nonprofits will allow tree drop-offs with no scheduled appointment, a perfect solution for the procrastinating planner. Girls and Boys Club chapter frequently do this, as do smaller, local nonprofits – just google “Christmas tree collection nonprofit” and your city to find a plethora of results.

See if Your Firehouse is Collecting

Can’t find a nonprofit that’s collecting? In an effort to prevent house fires, many fire stations will take your trees and dispose of them responsibly as well. And if your kids are out of school over the holidays, this is a great activity for them that isn’t sitting in front of the TV.

Donate to a Local Park, Preserve, or Protected Area

While many groups will collect trees, then bring them to recycling centers in bulk, nature preserves, parks, and protected forests will collect trees to immediately turn into mulch. This is a great eco-friendly solution if you’re concerned about the environmental impact of using a real Christmas tree.

Cut It Up and Get Crafty

If you’re particularly good with a saw and some ribbon, you can cut the tree up into smaller pieces and turn it into various winter and Christmas decor pieces you can use for years to come. Pinterest is full of ideas for how to do this.

Let Your Trash Collector Take It Away

Certain cities, like Seattle and Portland, let you leave you tree on the curb for the recycler to come pick them up on your regular garbage day. You can leave it on your curb, or chop it up into smaller pieces and place it in your yard waste bin. Just make sure to check if pickup is available first – some areas won’t allow it, even if your city does.

Work With Your Landlord to Organize a Building-Wide Collection

If you live in a large apartment complex, talk to your landlord about designating a collection area for residents to put their leftover trees. Once all the trees are gathered, it’s easy to use a service like Dolly to gather up the trees and bring them to a local recycling center, dump, or donation site.

Whether you’re dropping off your tree with a local charity, taking it all the way across the city to the recycling center, or hauling a heavy one down 3 flights of stairs, Dolly is here to help. Our Helpers will load up your tree into their truck, make the trip for you, and handle all the messy heavy lifting. Just book a Dolly, sit back, and start planning for your New Year’s resolutions.

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