The Big Mulch: How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree in NYC

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One of the loveliest elements of the holiday season, the Christmas tree, can lose its luster pretty quickly once the new year arrives. Good news! the city’s Mulchfest program makes it easy for you to recycle your Christmas tree and do some good for the city’s parks and young trees. Here’s how get rid of your Christmas tree and do a little green good this year. (Plus: the last day for sanitation tree pickup and recycling!)


photo: Allison Meier via Flickr

Treecycle it: MulchFest2020

MulchFest is back! NYC’s own “TREECYCLE” tradition is taking place from December 26, 2020 to January 9, 2021.  Last year the city mulched more than 50,000 trees, and it’s pumped to set a new record for 2020!

Bring your tree (free of all decorations, netting and wrapping) and it will be recycled into wood chips to nourish trees and plants on NYC streets and gardens. Drop it off at one of the many Mulchfest locations around the city (there are many n every borough), or bring it on a “Chipping Saturday”, January 2 and 9, to see your tree reduced to bits live.

Bonus: If your own backyard needs some sprucing up, you can get a free bag of mulch to take home with you after your tree is chipped. (Locations marked with an asterisk have mulch for the taking.)

Click here to find all Mulchfest info, including chipping and drop-off locations.


photo: via MillionTreesNYC Facebook Page

Spread the Love — and the Mulch!
Feel like spreading some of that green love around? You and the kids can volunteer to add that awesome mulch to city trees.  (The mulch helps protect young trees, shrubs and garden beds from the winter cold, helps plants retain moisture and provides a nice decorative touch.) Sound like the green, civic activity your family’s been seeking? Events are happening in all boroughs on weekends in January. Click here to see locations, dates, and times and to register! (And remember, dress warmly, wear closed-toe shoes and a mask!)


photo: via MillionTreesNYC Facebook page

Kick it To the Curb — and still recycle it!: Dates for Department of Sanitation Pick-Up
Bring your tree down for curbside pick-up by the Department of Sanitation from January 4-15. Trees will be recycled into compost for NYC’s public spaces (parks, gardens, etc.). Be sure to remove all decorations from the tree and do not place the tree in a plastic bag.

Note: trees left curbside with holiday decorations of any kind remaining on them will be collected as garbage. If your metal or plastic imitation tree has worked its last holiday season, dispose of it with your normal recycling and it’s off your hands.


photo: Philip Bump via Flickr

Have Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting — and still recycle it!: Removal Services

If you’re unable to physically take your tree down to the curbside or to a MulchFest chipping location or drop off site, don’t worry. Services like NYC Trees can come to your home, remove the tree, and take it directly to a recycling location for you. Starting at $70 for a four-to-five-foot tree, NYC Trees makes the tree removal process (and clean up!) about as easy as it gets. (If you want them to take off your lights, ornaments, etc. expect to pay more.)


—Ilyssa Smith

Main photo: NYC Department of Parks & Recreation 


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