So you’ve put away all the ornaments and the lights and the tinsel... and you have that bare tree in your living room... what now? It’s not illegal in Michigan to throw your Christmas tree away... but a lot of cities and counties do recycle them... and chip them up into mulch. The recycling website Earth 911 lets you type in your zip code to find tree drop-off sites near you.
I talked with Marsha Gray - she's the executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. She says the first thing you should do if you want to recycle your tree is call the people who pick up your trash.
“You want to ask them if they do a separate collection for the trees. If they’re collecting them separately from your regular trash, that means they’re most likely recycling, probably chipping those trees into mulch. If they’re collecting at the same time and they’re going right into the bin that means they will go to the landfill."
Marsha's tips for recycling - or reusing your tree:
- If your waste hauler won't recycle your tree... call your city or county park department. There's a good chance they offer a drop-off site for the first few weeks of January.
- Stand your tree up next to the birdfeeder for a little perching spot for birds while they wait their turn at the feeder.
- Use the branches as plant stakes
- If you're really ambitious, break out the chainsaw and remove the branches (you don't want to burn these in a fire - they can spark!), cut the trunk into logs, and add them to your log pile to season for a year. Free firewood for next Christmas!
The National Christmas Tree Association has gathered some unusual uses for Christmas trees. Also, New York City celebrates Mulchfest every year - last year, nearly 24,000 Christmas trees were recycled into mulch for city parks and street trees, and residents can take home a bag of mulch.