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How to dispose of your old Christmas tree in NYC

Turn it into mulch or let the Department of Sanitation repurpose it into compost used for city landscaping

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated with the most recent information.

Now that New Year’s Day is behind us, the holiday season is officially over, closing out the “most wonderful time of the year.” It’s time for all of those wonderful Christmas trees that illuminated many households with bright lights and beautiful ornaments to go dark and dim as they are stripped of their glamour before being tossed away. It sounds like a rather sad ending for a Christmas tree but actually it’s not that bad. The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has released guidelines for proper Christmas tree disposal along with ways to repurpose them.

Beginning Wednesday, January 2 through Saturday, January 12, the DSNY will collect and compost clean Christmas trees, turning them into material that will fertilize city parks, gardens, and institutions. But before you hand your tree over to the DSNY so it can embark on its new life, here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove all lights, ornaments, and stands from the tree. In other words, strip it clean otherwise it will be treated as regular garbage (now that would be sad).
  • Make sure the tree is not wrapped in any plastic or placed inside a plastic bag.
  • Leave trees at the curb between the designated dates ( January 2- January 12).

Artificial trees made primarily out of metal or rigged plastic will be recycled. Additionally, fake trees in good condition can be donated or sold through donateNYC.

The DSNY also has a few other ideas on how you can get rid of your tree. NYC Parks will host MulchFest between Friday, January 4 and Sunday, January 13 at 68 drop-off sites in parks and gardens throughout the five boroughs. On the final weekend of Mulchfest, January 13 and 14, visitors will be able to take home mulch from 31 different chipping sites.