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How to Give Your Christmas Tree New Life or Throw It Away: NPR

A person walks past a pile of abandoned Christmas trees along a sidewalk in New York on January 14, 2014.

File photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images


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File photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images


A person walks past a pile of abandoned Christmas trees along a sidewalk in New York on January 14, 2014.

File photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Each year, approximately 25 to 30 million live Christmas trees are sold in the United States, according to the Christmas Tree Association.

It is believed to be bad luck to take down your tree before the 12th day of Christmas, which is January 6th. So unless you’re one of the few, chances are your tree is still standing.

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

Leave it on the sidewalk

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

But if your Christmas tree was grown outside the state you live in, it could contain invasive species, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In this case, do not throw the tree into your garden 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 United States, 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 locations. Recycling centers often turn the tree into mulch that the community can use in erosion protection programs, for example. Some nonprofit organizations, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, offer pickup service for a small donation.

Flocked trees, which are covered in dust or synthetic powder to look like snow on their branches, cannot be recycled and must be disposed of with regular trash.

Other tips

It is never recommended to burn fresh tree wood in a fireplace or indoor wood stove, as the fresh sap can create a fire hazard.

Wrap a plastic bag or sheet around the tree to prevent needles or sap from dirtying your floors. Drier trees lose their needles sooner and also tend to be more flammable. Electric lights should be removed as soon as the tree dries to avoid danger.

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

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