For the holiday revelers who have enjoyed the pine scent of a real Christmas tree at home this season, the unfortunate part you’ve dreaded is coming near — taking down the tree. From squeezing it through narrow brownstone doorways to elevators filled with needles, to wrapping your tree in a fitted sheet like a dead body, sometimes it feels like the tree always wins. Luckily, we’re here to help with what to do – and not do – when it’s time to take down the Christmas tree. Read on to learn what to do to safely and responsibly dispose of your tree in North Jersey.
Christmas Tree Do’s
Municipalities throughout New Jersey all have their own tree collection schedules. In most cases, the trees are chipped and made into mulch which is often freely available to residents.
Montclair — The Parks and Shade Tree Division at the Department of Community Services will collect Christmas trees from curbside throughout January.
Your no-longer twinkling Christmas tree lights also have a place to go. They can be recycled, though not by way of your regular recycling. Box up broken strands of lights and send them here to keep them out of landfills and help raise money for good works.
Christmas Tree Don’ts
For curbside pickup, Christmas trees must be free of ornaments, tinsel, lights, stands, and anything else that isn’t a tree. Do not wrap the tree or put it in a garbage bag. Wreaths and garlands are not part of the municipal tree pickup. You’ll have to put those with your regular garbage.
It should go without saying that you cannot recycle your artificial Christmas tree, but we’ll still say it here just in case.
Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and could cause a chimney fire. It’s also worth noting that coniferous needles contain nitrogen and substances called terpenes which are highly toxic when burned, making the smoke unsafe.
Strictly speaking, a real Christmas tree is always a fire hazard. As the needles start to dry out, that fire risk increases. Four weeks, continuously replenishing the water, is the generally recommended time for safely keeping your tree up. That’s totally separate from the tradition that directs Christmas tree removal 12 nights after Christmas (yes, like the song), on the Christian day of the Epiphany, January 6th, that celebrates the three Wise Men who followed a star to make it a bit late for the baby Jesus welcoming party.
If you’ve invested in an artificial tree, all rules are off. Feel free to keep that baby up year-round as a coat rack, fully decorated for Christmas in July, or for whatever purpose you wish.
Everyone is a maker these days. The more techie our work lives get, the more we want to construct something with our hands. Your old Christmas tree offers up quite a few potential projects if you aren’t quite ready to kick it to the curb.
Wider parts of the tree’s trunk can be cut into tree rounds and used for all sorts of things. You can make coasters and trivets from the rounds and tic-tac-toe game sets from assorted pieces. Cut a groove in a piece of wood for a card stand to keep your wifi login on display for guests. Make fresh-scented sachets from the needles. Bird feeders are an easy project and act of kindness to the birds: cut a foot-long branch off your tree, cover it in peanut butter, roll it in birdseed, hang it from a tree outside, and start waiting for spring.