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What do they do with Christmas trees after Christmas? Their afterlife

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What do they do with Christmas trees after Christmas? Their afterlife

Christmas trees make for high quality mulch and compost material. Different regions may have different uses for Christmas trees after the holidays. Most municipalities offer Christmas tree recycling programs.

The tree stands tall in the living room. It faithfully serves its newfound home, giving shelter to the neatly wrapped boxes that swarm its base. It wears shiny ornaments and bright lights. It’s picture-worthy. It’s this year’s Christmas tree.

Roughly 30 million Christmas trees are sold every year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

But what happens to them when the holiday is over? There is no North Pole for these trees to return to, like Santa Claus and his reindeer.

What about the trees that never made it into a home?

It turns out the Christmas tree gives just as much after the holidays as it does during.

What happens to unsold Christmas trees?

Not every fir tree makes it into a cozy home. Some never make it out of the farm or the parking lot. But they all typically share the same fate.

“The biggest endpoint for unused Christmas trees…is conversion into mulch,” said Richard Bates, a horticulture professor who teaches a class on Christmas tree management at Pennsylvania State University.

“There are literally thousands of established programs operated usually by municipalities or community-based groups that will collect and then chip and compost them – and sometimes even resell that end-use product,” Bates told USA TODAY.

What should I do with my Christmas tree?

You should find one of these programs in your area and recycle your Christmas tree when the holidays are over, experts recommend. Most cities and counties offer curbside pick-up or provide Christmas tree drop-off sites, according to Jill Sidebottom, spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association.

The city of San Diego takes north of 70,000 Christmas trees from residents through its recycling program, according to Ed Baskin, who helps run the program.

Baskin said trees tend to produce high quality wood chips and mulch. In San Diego, the city uses the mulch and compost material produced from the trees in its parks and offers the product to residents for free.

Trees find new afterlife purposes depending on where they are. Some localities, for example, collect the trees to combat beach erosion.

And some municipalities even deposit the trees in a pond because they make a great habitat for small fish, according to Bates.

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When should I take my Christmas tree down?

There is no definitive answer to this question.

Most people take their tree down after the new year. Some Christmas traditions call for keeping the tree up at least through Epiphany on Jan. 6, when the three kings arrived in Jerusalem, according to Sidebottom.

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For safety’s sake, it’s best to keep your tree green and fresh by watering it throughout its entire life cycle. A dried out tree in the home poses a fire hazard. Dry trees are also harder to mulch, according to Baskin. Be sure to remove any ornaments and decorations before recycling your tree as well.

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