It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and it also produces a lot of waste. (In the U.S., that’s 25% more than during the rest of the year!) One of the biggest culprits? That painstakingly-chosen and decorated Christmas tree, now dry and drooping. So what can you do with a tree once the season is over? Don’t throw it away! In Portland, there are many easy and creative ways to repurpose and recycle your tree. Read on to learn more.

photo: Pleasonton Boy Scouts via Facebook

Pro Tip: Prep your tree for recycling by stripping it of all ornaments and lights. Most trees are turned into wood chips, and these items may damage the chipping machine. If you have a flocked or artificially-colored tree, check our listings below, as not all recyclers accept these.

Portland Metro

One of the easiest options is your area’s waste collection team on regular pick-up day. For smaller trees, cut it into pieces that fit completely into your green compost roll bin for free pickup. For $4.50, whole trees under 6 feet can be placed at the curb, while trees over 6 feet should be cut in half. Flocked trees are not accepted for recycling curbside.

Pro Tip: Miss pick-up day, or need to get it gone fast? Use Metro’s simple Find a Recycler tool to locate a drop-off location near you, or in many cases, arrange for pickup. If you live outside Portland, check Metro’s information page for different curbside regulations.

photo: Mike Mahaffie via flickr

Lake Oswego Boy & Girl Scouts

For a small donation, Boy Scout Troop 230 and Girl Scout Troop 12492 will collect Christmas trees and wreaths for recycling. Drop off your Christmas greenery at one of two specified drive-up lots just after the new year. You’ll be doing something good for the planet and helping these scouts earn badges throughout the year.

Hours: 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sat., Jan. 4, and Sun., Jan. 5.
Cost: $10 per tree and $8 per wreath
Boy Scouts, Yakima parking lot
4101 Kruse Way
Lake Oswego, OR
Girl Scouts, upper parking lot
George Rogers Park
611 State St.
Lake Oswego, OR
Online: ci.oswego.or.us

Christmas for Coho

One of the more innovative ways to put an old tree to new use is with Christmas for Coho, a project of Tualatin Valley Trout Unlimited. For a small fee, you can drop off your Christmas tree to be repurposed as habitat for young salmon in Oregon waterways. This conservation group organizes volunteers to position trees in local rivers, streams, and tidal zones, where young salmon use them to hide from predators. For these reasons, they do not accept trees with flocking or tinsel.

Dates: Jan. 4 & 11, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Cost: $10/tree
Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitter
10910 NE Halsey
Portland, Or
West Linn Fire Station
6000 Failing St
West Linn, Or
Online: facebook.com/christmasforcoho

photo: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Youth Group

It’s 2020 and time to say goodbye to last year’s greenery! The weekend after New Year’s, head to St. Andrew’s in the Southwest. For a small donation, this drop-off site accepts green trees, flocked trees, and even wreaths, all benefiting the youth group.

Hours: January 4-5 and January 11-12, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Cost: $5-$10 suggested donation for green trees, more for flocked trees; Donation requested for wreath recycling
3228 SW Sunset Blvd.
Portland, Or
Online: oregonmetro.gov

Environmentally Conscious Recycling

This easy-to-use drop-off site in NE Portland takes both flocked and green Christmas trees. For over 30 years, they’ve been working to reduce recycling costs and protect the environment, and this year you can join them by bringing in your tree for recycling.

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m.-5 p.m. (winter)
Cost: $2/green; $25/flocked
12409 NE San Rafael
Portland, Or
503-253-0867
ecr@ecrrecycling.com
Online: ecrrecycling.com

photo: Joe Strupek via Flickr

Sunnyside Environmental School

This K-8 public school has an environmental focus, so it makes sense that they hold an annual Christmas tree recycling fundraiser. With a small fee for both drop-off and pickup services on the Eastside, it’s easy to benefit the school’s field trip fund. Trees are chipped and used as mulch in the school’s garden. Pickup is by reservation via website or email, by Dec. 28.

Hours: Jan. 4-5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5/tree drop off; $10/tree pickup
3421 SE Salmon St.
Portland, Or
sunnysidetreerecycling@gmail.com
Online: sesptsa.org

In your own backyard

If you’re not up for curbside or drop-off options, consider these intentional backyard alternatives. The American Forest Society has some great ideas for putting your tree to good use in your own yard, from a bird feeder to coasters.

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-Melissa Poulin

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