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How to give your Christmas tree new life or kick it to the curb

A person passes a pile of discarded Christmas trees along a sidewalk in New York City on Jan. 14, 2014.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images file photo
A person passes a pile of discarded Christmas trees along a sidewalk in New York City on Jan. 14, 2014.

Each year, about 25 million to 30 million live Christmas trees are sold in the U.S., according to the Christmas Tree Association.

It is thought to be bad luck to take down your tree before the 12th day of Christmas, which is Jan. 6. So unless you're one of the rare types, chances are your tree is probably still up.

Whenever the time comes for you, here are some ways to dispose your tree or give it new life.

Leave it on the curb

Many cities and counties offer curbside pickup, and you can find local schedules online. Check to see if see if you have to cut it to a certain length.

But if your Christmas tree was grown outside the state you live in, it could carry invasive species, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In that case, don't dispose of the tree in your yard or compost it.

Drop it off at a recycling center

Start by searching for recycling options in your area on Google or Earth 911, which has an extensive database. In the U.S. there are more than 4,000 local Christmas tree recycling programs, according to the Christmas Tree Association.

Most cities and counties have free drop-off points. The recycling centers will often turn the tree into mulch for the community to be used in erosion barrier programs, for example. Certain non-profits, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts offer pickup service for a small donation.

Flocked trees, which are coated with synthetic dust or powder to look like snow on their branches, cannot be recycled and need to be disposed of with regular waste.

Other tips

It's never recommended to burn the wood from fresh trees in an indoor fireplace or woodstove, as the fresh sap can create a fire hazard.

Wrap a plastic bag or sheet around the tree to avoid needles or sap making a mess on your floors. Drier trees drop their needles sooner, and also tend to be more flammable. Electrical lights should be removed as soon as the tree dries out to avoid hazards.

Or you can get creative and repurpose your tree into an elaborate wreath, a bird feeder or even — yes — spruce beer.

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