(Image courtesy: Burst)
The holidays are wrapping up, but along with throwing out — or recycling all the wrapping paper and bows — many families are wondering what to do with their holiday tree as the presents are opened and the need for it has come to an end.
It’s always best to recycle as much as possible of the paper, cardboard boxes, and discarded dinner party items we use around the holidays, so recycling your tree is preferable. By recycling, we mean disposing of your tree in an environmentally-friendly way like turning the tree into chip mulch, using the tree as fuel for your wood-burning fire, or using it to build new wooden items like toys or yard fixtures.
“Hopefully, you can dispose of your tree by recycling. Many communities set aside a day for this and have a tree chipper available that will turn the trees into woodchip mulch,” Scott Diffenderfer, Arborist and Plant Expert at Trees.com explained to LIST WITH ELIZABETH®. “If not, and you burn wood, use the tree as kindling and fuel. Some other ideas include using the tree as a bird sanctuary or to create a shelter for fish. These ideas are not always practical but if you have a location where this is permitted then it may be worth considering.”
If you don’t plan to cut up and repurpose your own tree, you should know that you can do your part by recycling your holiday tree with the county collection service.
Holiday Tree Recycling
Christmas tree recycling will be provided for Fairfax County trash collection services after the New Year’s holiday. Fairfax County residents can drop off their trees at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex. There is a $7 fee to recycle your tree. And please note — all ornaments, decorations (including tinsel) and stands must be removed prior to disposal. (I-66 Transfer Station: 4618 W. Ox Road, Fairfax; I-95 Landfill Complex: 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton)
Should you be unable to or not wish to recycle your tree at either of these locations, you may still be interested in other ways to dispose of your annual holiday tree. Luckily, Northern Virginia also has options for curbside removal.
Fairfax County residents with curbside pickup can place their trees on the curb (where your trash cans would be located) during the first two weeks in January, from January 3rd through 14th, 2022. Lights, decorations, and stands must be removed in order for trees to be collected, and trees should not be placed in bags. After those dates, residents must schedule a brush special collection to have Christmas trees removed and disposed of.
Some surrounding areas have extended dates. In the Town of Vienna, for example, residents will be able to put out their trees for recycling throughout the month of January. The same instructions apply for removing lights, decorations, etc.
If you don’t receive trash services from the Town of Vienna or Fairfax County — and this is the majority of Fairfax County, so you’re not alone — you’ll want to check collection policies with your private hauler.
As far as deciding when is the best time to take down your tree for disposal, some families take down their trees immediately after Christmas on December 26th or anytime leading up to the New Year as they have time in their schedule to tackle it. But for others, tradition says they should leave up their holiday tree through January 6th, the Twelfth Night of the twelve days of Christmas, a formal date to signal the end of the Christmas celebrations.
No matter when you finally decide to take down the decorations and haul the tree to the curb or the reclining center, remember that the National Fire Protection Association definitely recommends disposing of your tree when the tree is dried out, as dried-out trees can create a fire hazard. Don’t leave dried-out trees inside your home or garage or even leaning against your residence, but make sure they make it out to the curb or recycling center where they will be picked up properly and unable to harm your home.
We care about your home and all of the joyful memories you make with it. All of us here at LIST WITH ELIZABETH® hope you had the happiest of holidays. And if you’re considering a move in 2022, we’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year!