Every year Christmas rolls in like a winter storm, bringing with it a flurry of yuletide cheer in the form of decorative ornaments, colorfully wrapped presents, and freshly cut Scotch pines. After knocking back the last nog, carefully returning the limited edition Star Trek collectible Hallmark ornaments into their Mylar encased, airtight, waterproof, earthquake resistant cases, and stuffing the stockings back into boxes in the basement with care, the only thing left on the post-Christmas to do list is the disposal of the now slightly browning Christmas tree.
Taking the time to recycle your Christmas tree will prevent your tree from becoming another piece of garbage in the perpetually growing landfills that dot communities across America, where it will take longer for the tree to biodegrade. Considering the EPA already estimates that organic trash accounts for 20 percent of all solid waste, finding a way to properly recycle a Christmas trees seems like the perfect gift to give the community.
Find Out Your Tree’s Destination
Finding some one to pickup your tree doesn’t guarantee the tree gets recycled or composted. This is true even of some city sponsored curbside pickup programs, as was the case in New York City last year after a series of severe winter storms drained the Department of Sanitation’s budget. Don’t be afraid to afraid to ask questions about where your tree is headed once it leaves the curb.
You’d Better Not Wait, I’ll Tell You Why
While getting rid of your tree and taking down the inflatable Santa from the roof does signal the end of another Christmas season, it’s better not to hold on to the nostalgia for too long. Unlike the fruitcake you received from the office Secret Santa, Christmas tree recycling programs do have an expiration date on them. Most programs only run for few weeks in early January, and yard waste facilities, which operate under shorter hours during the winter, may only accept trees on certain dates. Waiting too long may also exclude you from receiving some free post-holiday swag. In some cities, such as Denver, Christmas trees are mulched, and given away free to the public.
Don’t be a Scrooge
Some recycling programs may require a small donation. If the Boy Scouts of America offer to collect your tree, as they do in many communities, don’t be surprised if they also ask you to chip in with a little gas money. Of course if the idea of paying a few buck to help some little boy get his Yuletide Recycling badge seems outrageous, you can always chop the tree up yourself and use it as kindling.