If you buy fresh Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths, the season's over and it's time to get rid of them. But how can you dispose of Christmas greens safely and responsibly?
One thing you don't want to do is wait to dispose of your tree. The longer the tree remains in your home, the drier it becomes.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of house fires caused by Christmas trees occur in January.
Most communities have drop off locations for trees or they provide scheduled pick-up service. Call your community's environmental service (city trash or yard debris service) and ask these questions:
What dates are for tree pickups and how soon can you put your tree on the curb?
Do you need to put the tree in a bag? You can find tree disposal bags at Home Depot or Lowes.
Are there any size restrictions? For example, the city of San Diego requires that trees over four feet in length should be cut in half.
What are the disposal requirements for flocked or glitter-sprayed trees?
If your community provides containers, cut off larger branches that could prevent your tree from fitting inside.
Before you take the tree outside, double-check for remaining wire, tinsel, ornaments, hooks and lights. You'd be surprised how easy small pieces are to overlook.
If you're green-conscious, you can also take your tree to your local county recycling center where it can be ground into chips for animal habitats or mulch.
Tree trunks can be chopped into firewood, but don't tear branches off and stick them in your fireplace. There could be chemicals on the tree that could be toxic or needles that cause sparks.
Other options for safe disposal could be local artisans in your town who use tree trunks for carvings. Or a local community group may be sponsoring a tree removal fundraiser, such as the Boy Scouts. It will cost you a little more, but it's all for a good cause.
Check your local newspaper or city blog for other disposal options.