Your Christmas tree served proudly. It made your house smell like the mountains, gave your kids something to decorate (and almost topple) and provided the pets with something to chew on. Now that the holiday is over, it’s giving your vacuum cleaner a workout. It’s time to bid it a fond, and green, farewell.  Read on to find the easy and creative ways to help your tree find another purpose.

3128787306_80a42ea5b0_zphoto: Sami Keinänen via Creative Commons

First, You Gotta Strip
For any type of recycling, first prep your tree by removing all decorations, the tree stand, and adornments (ornaments, tinsel, lights, wire, nails, etc.), returning it to its original state. If your tree is flocked, call ahead to the recycler of your choice to make sure they recycle flocked trees. The city of Los Angeles will not accept flocked trees, and asks that you cut them and place them in the black garbage containers, as they must be thrown out.

chopped tree flickrphoto: via flickr

Curb Appeal
The City of LA Bureau of Sanitation is offering curbside collection for Christmas trees. If you can, simply place it (or cut it into pieces and place those) into your green recycling bins.  If your Christmas tree is too big, simply place the tree next to your green bin on collection day. Not sure when your trash pick up day is? Find out by plugging in your address here:

tree recycle flickr summerphoto: Summer via flickr

Drop Everything
If you prefer to drop your tree off on your own schedule, check out the LA Department of Public Works website for details on pickup times and locations, which vary by city and unincorporated area.  On this website you can also check to see if your area has specific instructions for curbside pickup.

Outsource It
If hauling the tree yourself just doesn’t sound appealing, then check out California Christmas Tree Recycling. Once you’ve made an appointment (simply reserve your 4 hour window online), a green recycler will visit your home, collect your tree (after you’ve removed the ornaments, of course), vacuum up any tree debris (hallelujah!), and take the pieces to be recycled. They’ll be picking up trees daily through January 21, 2017.

Prices start at $25 and go up depending on the size of the tree. For a reduced fee, they will pick up the tree at the curb. A portion of the proceeds goes to TreePeople, to help plant new trees.

bobistrveling christmas tree bird flickrphoto: bobistraveling via flickr

Give Tweety A Home
Christmas trees makes great bird habitats. Use string or twine to hold the tree upright in your yard and try attaching a bird feeder on one of the bigger branches. You may soon have a new flock of friends

Fire Starter
Since these guys are notoriously flammable, you can cut them up and use them as fire starters in your fireplace. But here in LA, many of us have decorative fireplaces, not ones we actually use. You can still chop up that tree into pieces and tote the dry wood with you to Dockweiler Beach; it’s one of the only beach spots left where you can toast marshmallows at sunset over a beach bonfire. If that’s not on the Dock-et, the dried out branches also make good starters for your backyard BBQ.

Help Stop Shoreline Erosion
Christmas trees can be used to help reduce erosion on shorelines of oceans, lakes or rivers. The branches and trunk provide barriers that help lessen the amount of sand washed away by the water. They can also help rebuild areas, especially after hurricanes, by collecting sand deposits. Check with the California Department of Natural Resources to see if they have a need for your Christmas trees.

img_8675photo: Meghan Rose

What does your family do with your Christmas tree? Do you have any creative ways to recycling it?

—Beth Shea & Meghan Rose