How To Properly Get Rid Of Your Christmas Tree, Other Christmas Trash

Ramil GibadullinShutterstock

It’s time to get rid of your Christmas tree. December 26 is the day when many Americans who celebrates Christmas suddenly finds themselves with a very large, obsolete bit of holiday decor that needs to be dismantled and gotten rid of. That’s saying nothing of all of the wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, burnt-out lights, and any other Christmas holdovers you may have accumulated.

As it turns out, there are right ways and wrong ways to get rid of your Christmas trash — tree included — according to WCBD-TV (Charleston).

Ditching The Tree

Most cities offer one or more means of getting rid of your (real) Christmas trees, usually via curbside pickup. Check with City Hall to see if — and when — they’ll be picking up old trees. If your city doesn’t, speak with your garbage collectors.

In case you’re wondering what happens to discarded Christmas trees — it depends. In some municipalities, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, trees are fed into a wood chipper, turned into sawdust, and then sold as mulch. Some trees wind up in landfills as regular trash. Other communities toss them into lakes — the trees provide a hiding place for smaller fish, and their decomposition helps contribute to the natural ecology of the lake.

If you have a fire place in your home, do not attempt to burn your tree in the fireplace. Firewood takes months, if not a year, to properly season and to dry out. You will likely wind up with a smoky mess if you do make the attempt, and possibly risk burning your house down.

a christmas tree by the curb
Featured image credit: John ArehartShutterstock

Papers, Please (Wrapping Paper, Cardboard Boxes)

You may be tempted to do the environmentally-friendly thing, and recycle all of that Christmas wrapping paper you’ve accumulated. Unfortunately, most of the wrapping paper you have lying around can’t be recycled — especially the shiny, metallic, or plastic-coated paper you may have. The same goes for gift bags, too. Unless your gifts have been wrapped with hemp, cotton, or some other natural fiber, just throw the wrapping paper in the regular trash.

Those cardboard boxes likely can’t be recycled, either, according to the Spruce. You’re best off taking a knife to them, cutting them into small pieces, and throwing them out with the rest of the trash.

Whatever you do, don’t leave cardboard boxes out with your regular trash. The box that your 72-inch TV screen or your child’s new bike came in? Those are signals to thieves that you have some pricey new additions to the household. Shred the cardboard, put it in a bag, and put the bag in your trash bin.

Old Christmas Lights

Got an old strand of Christmas lights — perhaps dating back to the Reagan administration — that has given off its last few photons? Don’t throw it in the trash, but rather check out this list of options per Modernize, a list which tells users which charities accept old Christmas lights. Those strands contain valuable materials that can be scrapped or resold, with the proceeds being put to good use.