When, Where, and How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in all 50 States

So it doesn’t end up in a landfill…

By Tina Wool, Guest Contributor

This holiday season, it seemed like resources for creating more sustainable holiday traditions have been popping up all over the internet. But now that the holidays are over, no matter how sustainably you prepared, now it’s time to think about how to clean up the inevitable mess that accumulates in our homes. 

Growing up in Illinois, we boxed our decorations for storage, broke down gift boxes to be properly recycled, and my parents chopped and composted our Christmas tree right in our backyard. But living in an apartment in Los Angeles, I don’t have the resources or space to mulch a Christmas tree at home. 

Did you know most cities and counties across the United States offer Christmas tree recycling programs free of charge to its residents? Now you do! 

Why it’s important to recycle your tree: Each year, an estimated 25 million to 30 million live Christmas trees are purchased in the United States, many of which end up in local landfills where they slowly decompose amongst our trash. As they decompose, trees discarded in landfills release methane into the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, in the first 20 years it reaches the atmosphere, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. Recycling your tree often means it is chipped for mulch and composting (some of which is then offered back to residents for free). In states like Nevada, mulch provides essential ground coverage used in water conservation in a state where water is scarce. In other instances, recycled trees are used for critical coastal restoration projects, like in Louisiana and other coastal states. For these reasons, recycling your tree could be the most environmentally impactful thing you end up doing this holiday season.

Are you ready to give your Christmas tree another life? Without further ado, here it is: The Ultimate Guide to Recycling Your Tree, in All 50 States.

IMPORTANT: With almost all programs listed below, in order to ensure your tree gets picked up for recycling (and not for the dump, or a fine by your waste hauler), all ornaments, lights, stands, nails, bags, and anything not originally part of the tree itself should be removed. Trees left outside with stuff on or outside of the designated dates for pick up will go to a landfill.

In some cases, flocked trees are accepted but in some they are not. With some drop-off programs, having ID proof of residency in that region is required. Lastly, almost all of the programs listed below are free, but a few come with a pickup/dropoff charge or an expectation for a charitable donation for the service. We’ve laid out all the details below, but check the links included for the program in your locality, as some of the details may have changed since the publishing of this article.

Alabama

Huntsville / Tuscaloosa / Birmingham / Lake Martin

What trees are used for: recycled woodchips for local parks (Huntsville), animal habitats (Birmingham Zoo) and fish habitats (Lake Martin), and mulch (elsewhere)

Dates: Drop off on 1/7 8am-1p (Huntsville), Drop off through 1/8 (Lake Martin), through 1/10 (Birmingham), through 1/6 (Tuscaloosa)

Details: click here for all program details in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Lake Martin. Organized by groups such as the Huntsville Green Team’s “Operation Cleanup Christmas”

Mobile

What trees are used for:  trees will be turned into mulch, and the mulch will be made available to residents for pick up from Jan. 17 to Jan. 22

Dates: drop off 12/26-1/15, 7a-5p

Details: drop off locations at James Seals Park  and Langan Municipal Park. click here for more

Gulf State Park (Gulf Shores)

What trees are used for: dune restoration

Dates: Now through end of January

Details: click here

Alaska

Anchorage

What trees are used for: Alaskans for Litter Prevention & Recycling turn the trees into wood chips for local trails

Dates: Now through 1/15

Details: Drop off bare trees at CARRS/Safeway Store Parking lots in Anchorage, Eagle River, and Palmer.

Arizona

Phoenix

What trees are used for: trees and wreaths are turned into compost

Dates: Drop off now through 1/8

Details: click here for one of the city’s 16 drop off locations

Tuscon (and Oro Valley)

What trees are used for: mulch and compost

Dates: Drop now through 1/16

Details: click here to see the City of Tuscon’s annual treecycle program drop off locations

Arkansas

Fayetteville

What trees are used for: mulch used by the city

Dates: Curbside pickup and drop off options available, now through end of January

Details: click here for curbside pickup instructions and drop off location

Other various locations

What trees are used for: fish habitats

Dates: Dates vary by drop off location (see below)

Details: click here to see dropoff locations organized by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

California

Los Angeles

What trees are used for: mulch and compost, later made available to residents for free

Dates: Curbside pickup is available on regular collection days now through 2/4 via your green waste bin, and drop off is available now through 1/31.

Details: click here for details on pickup instructions and drop off locations

San Francisco

What trees are used for: mulch and compost

Dates: Pick up is available now through 1/13

Details: click here to read Recology’s pick up instructions

San Diego

What trees are used for: mulch, woodchips, and compost

Dates: Pickup is available for greenery collection residents, otherwise, drop off is available now through 1/23

Details: click here for further pick up and drop off instructions

Colorado

Denver

What trees are used for: mulch and compost, which is later given to residents for free

Dates: Pick up is available for composting residents, otherwise, drop off is available now through end of January

Details: click here for details on the City of Denver’s TreeCycle program

Connecticut

Bridgeport

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Pick up available 1/9-2/3

Details: click here for pick up instructions

Stamford

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Pickup available on 1/16 and drop off available now through end of January

Details: click here for pick up and drop off instructions

Delaware

Wilmington

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off on 1/7

Details: click here for details on Wilmington’s annual treecycle program

Florida

Miami

What trees are used for: mulch, which is later made available for free to residents

Dates: pick up and drop off available 1/11-1/25

Details: click here for more details and instructions

Tampa

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: pick up and drop off on standard collection days

Details: click here for more details

Georgia

Atlanta

What trees are used for: mulch, which is later made available to residents upon request

Dates: Drop off on 1/7

Details: click here for more details on Keep Georgia Beautiful’s ‘bring one for the chipper’ event

Savannah

What trees are used for: mulch and coastal restoration needs

Dates: Drop off through 1/7

Details: click here for drop off locations

Hawaii

Honolulu

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Pick up and drop off on standard collection days

Details: click here for more details, including details on what fees are waived during the holiday season

Idaho

Boise

What trees are used for: mulch and compost, which is later made free for residents

Dates: pick up and drop off now through 1/7

Details: click here for more details on how to participate

Illinois

Chicago

What trees are used for: mulch for Chicago’s parks and forests

Dates: Drop off from 1/7-1/22

Details: click here for the 26 park drop off locations organized by Chicago’s Park District. Approximately 775,000 pounds of holiday trees were diverted from landfills by residents of Chicago taking advantage of this program!

Indiana

Indianapolis

What trees are used for: mulched into various soil blends by GreenCycle Indianapolis

Dates: Drop off now through 12/31

Details: click here for instructions for drop off for Marion County residents

Iowa

Des Moines

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Special curbside collection through 1/6

Details: Click here for details including that live trees need a $1.25 green Compost It! sticker to be collected.

Kansas

Wichita

What trees are used for: Mulch, which is later made available for free to residents

Dates: Drop off through 1/12

Details: click here to see multiple drop off locations

Overland Park

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off through end of January

Details: click here for drop off locations

Kentucky

Louisville

What trees are used for: mulch, which is made available to residents for free.

Dates: Drop off through 1/28

Details: click here to see the three drop off locations

Statewide

What trees are used for: fish habitats

Dates: Drop off on 1/7

Details: click here to see the statewide drop off locations organized by the Kentucky Department of Fishing and Wildlife

Louisiana

Greater New Orleans Areas

What trees are used for: Coastal restoration

Dates: Curbside pickup for Orleans Parish (1/9-1/12), Jefferson Parish (1/12-1/14), St. Charles Parish (1/9-1/26), and drop off only for St Tammany Parish (1/28) — There are also drop off sites in New Orleans via Glass Half Full through Mardi Gras.

Details: click here for the official details organized by the greater New Orleans-area parishes. If you miss the curbside pickups, for dropoff options in Orleans Parish, organized by Glass Half Full (separate program) click here. Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans region specifically has one of the most effective, long-standing and environmentally impactful tree recycling programs in the country – building back critically eroding wetlands in order to help with barriers against storms like hurricanes.

Maine

Portland

What trees are used for: chipped/ mulched and composted

Dates: curbside pick up through end of January

Details: Trees left curbside in Portland during January will be brought to Riverside Golf Course to be chipped/mulched/composted. click here for more details.

Statewide

What trees are used for: mulch and goat/animal feed (these trees are very tasty and nutritious for goats!)

Dates: Dates vary by drop off location (see below)

Details: click here to see a full list of drop off locations provided by ecomaine

Maryland

Baltimore

What trees are used for: mulch for valuable soil covering, some of which is made available to residents at drop off locations

Dates: Curbside pick up from 1/9-1/15 and drop off now through 2/4

Details: click here for dates and locations which vary by county

Surrounding Counties

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Pick up and drop off options vary (see below)

Details: click here for dates and locations which vary by county

Massachusetts

Boston

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Curbside pick up on your first regular recycling day in January

Details: click here for details.

Statewide

What trees are used for: mulch and goat/animal feed for local farms

Dates: varies based on drop off farm location (see below)

Details: click here for more details

Michigan

Detroit

What trees are used for: woodchips and mulch, some of which will be made available to residents

Dates: pick up for Oakland county (now through 1/13) and drop off for Monroe and Wayne counties (now through 1/10)

Details: click here for more details.

Grand Rapids

What trees are used for: turned into woodchips

Dates: curbside pick up (fee based) and drop off (free) now through end of January

Details: click here for details and instructions.

Ann Arbor

What trees are used for: mulch for local parks

Dates: Scheduled pickups occur on 1/8 and drop off available through 1/16

Details: click here for drop off locations and other details

Minnesota

St. Paul

What trees are used for: mulch and wood-based fuel for electricity

Dates: curbside pickup now through 1/15

Details: click here for more details and instructions

Surrounding Cities

What trees are used for: goat/animal feed (these trees are very tasty and nutritious for goats!)

Dates: varies by city (see below)

Details: click here for more details and instructions

Mississippi

Jackson

What trees are used for: wood chips and mulch for local parks and gardens

Dates: Drop off starting on 1/10 through the end of January

Details: click here for details and drop off sites

Biloxi / Gulfport

What trees are used for: wood chips and mulch for local parks and gardens

Dates: Drop off starting on 1/10 through the end of January

Details: click here for details and drop off sites

Missouri

Kansas City

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Drop off through end of January

Details: Click here for details and drop off locations.

St. Louis

What trees are used for: mulch and fish habitats in Spanish Lake

Dates: Drop off through 1/15

Details: There may be a small drop off fee of $3 in some locations, but click here for all details including how to recycle your other holiday items.

Montana

Billings

What trees are used for: Trees will be transformed into mulch to enrich environments where Billings kids play and learn about birds, trees, and animals.

Dates: Drop off now through 1/21

Details: click here for full details

Nebraska

Omaha

What trees are used for: mulch or feed/enrichment for animals at the zoo and aquarium

Dates: Drop off now through 1/10

Details: click here for details and drop off locations

Nevada

Las Vegas

What trees are used for: mulch, which is crucial to control dust and conserve water in Southern Nevada.

Dates: Drop off now through 1/15

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Reno

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/10

Details: click here for details and drop off locations

New Hampshire

Manchester

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Curbside pick up starting 1/16-1/20

Details: for details, click here

New Jersey

Newark (and surrounding areas)

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Pick up and drop off available now through 1/13

Details: click here for full details by region

New Mexico

Albuquerque

What trees are used for: mulch to provide a better growing environment for plants and residential landscapes.

Dates: Drop off now through 1/8, 8a-5p

Details: click here for details and drop off locations of the treecycle program

New York

New York City

What trees are used for: trees and wreaths are turned into rich compost for NYC’s parks, institutions, and community gardens

Dates: Pick up from 1/6-1/14 and drop off now through 1/8

Details: click here for full details and instructions

Buffalo

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off M-F, 8a-3p year round

Details: click here for more details

North Carolina

Raleigh

What trees are used for: mulch for landscaping

Dates: curbside pick up now through 2/6

Details: click here for full details

North Dakota

West Fargo

What trees are used for: mulch, made available to the community

Dates: Pick up and drop off available now through 1/13

Details: click here for full details and instructions

Ohio

Columbus

What trees are used for: mulch and compost

Dates: curbside pick up on regular yard waste collection days and drop off available (call ahead for dates, more info below)

Details: click here for more details

Akron / Cleveland

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through end of January

Details: click here for more details and drop off locations

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City

What trees are used for: mulch for parks, which residents can also pick up for personal use

Dates: Drop off now through 1/15

Details: click here for more details

Oregon

Portland (and surrounding areas)

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Most pick up and drop off options occur on 1/7 & 1/8 (see below for full details)

Details: click here for the 45 recycling charitable organizations that you can support by having them recycle your tree. This includes ones found within 25 miles of Portland for a variety of drop off or pick up options. Some come with the expectation of a donation. These groups include boy scout troops etc.

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

What trees are used for: transformed into a bulking agent for compost

Dates: Drop off now through 1/14

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Pittsburgh

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/26

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Rhode Island

Providence

What trees are used for: restoration projects like fish habitats

Dates: Drop off on 1/7 from 10am-2pm

Details: click here for full details

South Carolina

Charleston

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: pick up and drop off available now through 1/8

Details: click here for full details

Hilton Head

What trees are used for: mulch and coastal restoration needs

Dates: Drop off through 1/7

Details: click here for drop off locations

South Dakota

Sioux Falls

What trees are used for: mulch, which is typically made available for free to city or county residents.

Dates: Drop off now through 1/8

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Tennessee

Nashville

What trees are used for: mulch and compost for parks

Dates: Drop off now through 1/13

Details: click here for details and drop off locations

Memphis

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/6

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Texas

Austin

What trees are used for: mulch, which will then be made available to the public starting January 12th at Zilker Park. 

Dates: Curbside pick up on regular collection days for yard waste and drop off available on 1/7 and 1/8

Details: click here for full details and instructions

Dallas

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through end of January, 7am-4:30pm

Details: click here for drop off details including the need to show ID for proof of residence

Houston

What trees are used for: rich mulch that will be available from Living Earth locations and other local area retailers

Dates: Pick up and drop off available now through 1/31

Details: click here for all details and instructions

Utah

Park City

What trees are used for: chipped and put in the green waste pile at the landfill where it is made available for sale

Dates: Drop off now through end of January

Details: click here for full details and drop off locations

Salt Lake City

What trees are used for: compost

Dates: Curbside pick up now through 1/20

Details: click here

Vermont

Essex

What trees are used for: mulch and wood fuel

Dates: Pick up now through 1/6 and drop off (details below)

Details: click here for more details, and for the drop-off facility, click here.

Virginia

Virginia Beach

What trees are used for: coastal restoration programs, marine-focused conservation programs, and mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/6 (more programs and details below)

Details: Click for the Virginia Aquarium’s program. Click for the Landfill & Resource Recovery Center’s program which collects trees to be chipped for mulch used by Virginia Beach landscape crews. Click for Chico’s Pizza on 29th’s Christmas tree drive which fights erosion in the Outer Banks. Click for the Naval Air Station Oceana which collects trees to rehabilitate the dunes at Dam Neck.

Richmond (and other Central Virginia municipalities)

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/14

Details: click here for all details and drop off locations

Washington

Spokane

What trees are used for: woodchips and compost

Dates: Curbside pickup is now through 1/6

Details: click here for full details and instructions

Seattle

What trees are used for: mulch and compost

Dates: Pick up and drop off offered – no date restriction

Details: click here for more details

Washington, D.C.

D.C.

What trees are used for: Trees and greenery are made into compost, available to residents at the Benning Road Transfer Station.

Dates: Pick up and drop off offered Now through March 3rd

Details: click here for full details

West Virginia

Charleston

What trees are used for: mulch

Dates: Drop off now through 1/15

Details: click here for full details

Wisconsin

Madison

What trees are used for: woodchips and mulch which are then made available to residents (including family farms) at the end of January

Dates: Drop off available or pick up on 1/17

Details: click here for full details

Wyoming

Casper

What trees are used for: wood chips and compost that are available to the public, and used in local parks

Dates: Drop off now through 1/21

Details: click here for full details and drop off sites

Other Ideas

If your town/city is not on this list…

  • Contact state and national parks for restoration needs like fish/animal habitats
  • Contact local garden centers, community gardens, or Home Depot for dropoffs for converting to mulch / compost
  • Use it as firewood, or allow it to decompose naturally in your yard, giving a home to birds.
  • Dates: Drop off on 1/7


Tina Wool is a film and TV writer, copywriter, and producer based in Los Angeles. A guest editorial contributor for Cluey, Tina is passionate about mutual aid and community organizing.

You might also enjoy

Previous
Next

Hooray!

You now have a weekly dose of Cluey coming to your inbox. 

We just emailed you a personal link to the 500 top-rated brands on our platform organized by category as a gift :gift: Check it out!

Want to keep setting up your Cluey profile?

 See the overall impact of your current household brands and indicate what values matter most to you for a more personalized experience.