There's definitely a right way to get rid of artificial trees.

A reader recently came to us with a puzzling query: "Our artificial tree has seen better days. Can we recycle it?" asked Joanne Solomon of Athens, New York. The benefit of an artificial tannenbaum is that it lasts for many, many holidays and is a mess-free alternative to a classic pine or fir. But as the years go by, there's bound to come a time where you simply have to let your artificial tree go. What's the right way to do just that? Unlike the real versions, there's a little more that goes into properly disposing of your artificial tree than simply leaving it on the curb—as it turns out, recycling isn't always an option, and even when it is, there are other things you can do with your artificial tree, too. Here are some ways you can correctly recycle, donate, or reuse that old artificial Christmas tree.

Gold and White Christmas Tree

Can I Recycle My Artificial Tree?

That depends on what it's made of and where you live. Many faux trees contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a rigid plastic that some recycling systems can't process. However, if your municipality accepts all rigid plastics, you can likely recycle part of it. For example, New York City residents can put out the base and trunk of most versions with their metals, glasses, and cartons, provided they first remove the branches and any lights or tinsel, says Belinda Mager, a spokesperson for the NYC Department of Sanitation. Some communities may have services that'll pick-up and properly dispose of your artificial tree so be sure to confirm such programs exist in your area.

Where to Donate Artificial Trees

Mager says you can also give your faux evergreen new life by donating it. Check if local churches or charities are excepting used artificial trees as they may sell them and put that money back into the community. Otherwise, many organizations and businesses are likely to take used artificial trees for their own holiday decorating. Thrift stores, hospitals, libraries, and schools in your area are great places to start.

How to Reuse Your Artificial Tree

The materials artificial trees are usually made out of make them great for repurposing into new projects. Branches can be cut to create wreaths, garlands, and arrangements for any season. Think about the creative opportunities your tree may provide before getting rid of it.


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