Decorating your home for the holidays with an artificial tree is a good way to enjoy a tree without the mess of falling needles or the extra work of keeping a live tree healthy, but at some point, you will need to get rid of the tree. You may be able to recycle the tree depending on where you live and what the tree is made of, or you may be able to repurpose it.
A real Christmas tree comes with plenty of hassle, but there is usually a curbside collection day for Christmas tree recycling for live un-flocked trees. The same is not true for an old artificial Christmas tree.
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When your tree is worn out or you are ready to upgrade, you'll need to dispose of your fake Christmas tree. In some cases, you can recycle your Christmas tree at the local recycling center—or get creative and repurpose the old artificial tree.
Recycle artificial Christmas trees
Whether you can recycle your artificial Christmas tree depends on what your tree is made of and whether those materials are accepted at your local recycling center. Most Christmas trees are made with a metal base and support and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, plastic.
Most recycling centers accept metal, but not all recycling centers can process PVC, so reach out to your local recycling center to find out.
If your recycling center accepts metal but not plastic, you may be able to remove the limbs of the tree and recycle the base and center pole.
Be sure to ask if you can leave the tree on the street with your other recycling and waste collection. Some centers may require you to schedule a bulk pickup service for large items like trees. You may also be able to take the tree to a drop-off location.
The rules are the same when deciding how to dispose of a pre-lit Christmas tree, but as with all trees, remove the Christmas lights, tinsel and ornaments before recycling.
Donate artificial Christmas trees
If your local recycling center doesn't accept artificial trees, you still have options for getting rid of them. Consider donating the tree so someone else can reuse and enjoy it next year. Local charities, churches and thrift stores may accept trees to resell. You can also contact schools, libraries and other local organizations that may accept the tree to use for their own decorations next year. Ask family and friends if they are interested in the tree.
Repurpose an artificial Christmas tree
When deciding how to dispose of an artificial Christmas tree, consider some creative ideas for repurposing the tree. For example, you can use the tree limbs to make a wreath or garland to enjoy over your mantle. Other ideas include using parts of the tree to create things like:
- A centerpiece for your table
- Candle or napkin rings
- Topper for gifts instead of a traditional bow
These creations may take work, but they are fun ways to get into the holiday spirit and bring a unique and personal touch to your holiday season decor.
Dispose of an artificial Christmas tree
If you can't find a place to donate or recycle and you don't want to take on the task of repurposing your tree, how do you dispose of artificial Christmas trees? You can try to sell the tree if it is still in good condition or simply throw it away.
When throwing away an artificial Christmas tree, consider how large the tree is. You can likely put a smaller tree in the trash bin with your regular trash, but you may need to schedule a bulk pickup for a larger tree or have a truck to haul it. You can also drive it to the landfill yourself. Contact your local waste management company to find out what its requirements are.
While it is best to recycle whenever you can, not all artificial Christmas trees can be recycled due to the material they are made of and the rules set by your local recycling center. If you can't recycle, donate or repurpose the tree if possible. If all else fails, throw away the tree.