How to Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree

Recycle Your Artificial Christmas Tree

Tree Classics: How to Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree
by Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So the holidays are over, and you’re ready to retire your old artificial Christmas tree. What are your options? Here are a few alternatives to just throwing the whole thing in the dump.

1. Around Christmastime, most communities offer curbside pick-up of both real and artificial Christmas trees. These programs vary from city to city, so the best bet is to check with the waste management authority in your area to find out what options are available.

2. Take your tree to a drop-off recycling center. Almost every city or town has a recycling center where you can drop off your plastic, glass, aluminum, scrap metal, paper or artificial Christmas tree.

3. Sometimes, non-profit organizations conduct recycling campaigns to raise money or sustainability awareness. Often, Boy and Girl Scout troops organize these types of campaigns. You could do a quick Google search or call similar non-profits in your area to see what recycling efforts they have in progress–they might come pick up your tree for you.

No matter where your artificial Christmas tree ends up, there are a few general guidelines to follow before hauling it off or setting it out for recycling. Follow these steps to make sure your tree is as recyclable as possible:

  • Remove all lights. This could be trickier on a pre-lit Christmas tree, but if it’s at all possible, un-string the wires so the tree can be easily recycled.
  • Remove all decorations. Any non-organic decorations like garland, tinsel or ornaments should be removed, because they’ll interfere with the recycling process.

If you’re more interested in repurposing your artificial tree than recycling it, try cutting the limbs apart to create wreaths or garland you can use to ornament your front door, mantle or banisters in years to come. Depending on the shape of the limbs on your artificial tree, you should be able to use wire cutters to snip them to the length you want and re-use them around your home to add a touch of greenery and freshness.

Coupled with festive ribbons, lights and ornaments, last year’s Christmas tree could add a lovely, magical touch to the rest of your seasonal decorations. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!