How to Dispose of Christmas
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and now they’re packed in a box stored under the stairs.
Cleaning Up After Christmas
If you look around after the holiday festivities and wonder how you’re ever going to get your home back to normal, here are some tips for cleaning up after Christmas.
Tidying Up the Tannebaum
For those who invested in a live Christmas tree this year, there are a number of ways you can responsibly dispose of it after the holidays. Whether you kick it out of your house the day after Christmas or hang on to it until after the New Year, don’t just toss it to the curb unless your city specifically offers removal of Christmas trees.
How to Upcycle Your Christmas Tree
Waste not, want not! Learn about some ways you can upcycle your tree after the holiday season concludes.
Is there anything better than the fresh scent of pine? If you’re inclined to agree, then you’ll love turning your old Christmas tree into fragrant mulch that you can spread in your flower beds come spring. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can just strip the needles off your branches and use them on outdoor walkways that need more traction, or put the needles in your compost.
If you don’t have access to a wood chipper, mulching your Christmas tree may not be a feasible option. However, pine boughs themselves can provide great garden insulation! Just chop boughs off the trunk of the tree and layer them over areas of your yard that need extra coverage.
Feed the Birds
If you have property with some extra space, you can dump your old Christmas tree in your yard to provide a bird feeder or animal habitat for critters. It’s best to secure your spent spruce so it doesn’t get whisked away in a storm, but once you’ve done so it can provide shelter for animals with no additional effort.
If you want to use your fir as a feeder, you can decorate it outside with a variety of bird-friendly food:
- Pine cones covered in peanut butter, rolled in bird seed
- Popcorn garland (unsalted, unbuttered, of course)
- Halved fruit
- Pre-made or DIY bird seed ornaments
Responsible Tree Disposal
There’s no obligation to give new life to your Christmas tree once you’re done celebrating.
For artificial trees, there’s no way to recycle them. The materials used to fabricate them either can’t be separated for proper recycling, or they’re not recyclable at all.
If you want to recycle a live Christmas tree, contact your city to determine if you can leave your tree for curbside pickup, or if there is a designated dropoff area. If your city doesn’t offer either of these options, or you can’t make one work, there are nonprofits that can perform the service for a nominal fee.
Throw it Away
To properly throw your tree away, you may have to chop it into manageable pieces so it fits in your curbside trash bin. Otherwise, similarly to organizing recycling pickup, you may have to check with your city about having them pick up a fully-intact tree with regular trash collection.
What About Wrapping Paper?
There are only a couple of stipulations when it comes to recycling wrapping paper. If there’s anything not made of paper, such as glitter, foil accents, or metallic embellishments, it cannot be recycled. Otherwise, all regular and glossy wrapping paper can make its way into your recycling bin. Unless, of course, you have one of those over-zealous family members who scoops up discarded paper as soon as it leaves a gift and stuffs it all into a trash bag. Then you either have to sort your paper, or resign yourself to the fact that it’s all destined for the landfill.
Letting go of Lights
Do you have a strand or ten of lights that no longer work? Or maybe you just moved into a new home and your HOA requests certain holiday decor to give the neighborhood a cozy cohesive look. Whatever the case, if you’ve tried troubleshooting your lights or are simply ready for an upgrade, you have options when it comes to disposing of or recycling Christmas lights.
Compact Fluorescent Christmas Lights (CFL)
These lights need to be recycled carefully since the bulbs can contain mercury. If you’re upgrading to new lights (such as LED), you can donate working CFL lights to thrift stores. If your CFL lights are broken, most hardware stores will accept them for recycling. As with most municipalities, acceptance of working/broken CFL lights will vary; contact your city to find out what they can take off your hands.
Light-Emitting Diode Christmas Lights (LED)
If you want to recycle LED lights, you can mail them to Holiday LEDs, which offers a credit toward your purchase of new lights with them. Like CFL Christmas strands, you do have the option to donate working ones to thrift stores, or contact a local hardware store or your city regarding disposal/recycling of broken ones.
Disposing of Electronics
Let’s say you upgrade some of your electronics this Christmas. A new phone, new TV, or a new laptop might be the perfect gift for someone on your list. But what do you do with the outdated or broken electronics they’re replacing?
Drop off Recycling
There are designated places that accept old electronics for recycling. Consumer Reports suggests visiting Call2Recycle.org to find a place near you.
If your old electronics still work, you can donate them to a charity or nonprofit organization in your area. Your items can then be enjoyed by another person and avoid ending up in a landfill. If you’re active on social media, you could also ask online if any neighbors are interested in taking the items off your hands; there’s nothing better than leaving something on your porch for pickup and knowing it’s going to a new home.
Again, for still-functioning electronics, feel free to sell them for a few bucks. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort of creating an online ad and coordinating a pickup, but it’s still an option.
Whatever you do, please don’t throw away old electronic devices, batteries, or cords in your curbside trash bin or a dumpster. These items can be hazardous when they sit in landfills, and Western Elite explains more about that HERE.