While the debate on when you're supposed to take your Christmas tree down rages on, let's discuss the best ways to get rid of it when you do finally take it down.

Don’t just throw your old, real Christmas tree into the trash. Christmas trees are biodegradable, and can be reused or recycled. In fact, many communities have Christmas tree recycling programs in place.

In Kalamazoo residents can drop off bare Christmas trees at the farmers market parking lot at 1204 Bank Street. Decorations and ornaments must be removed. Trees can be dropped off until February 16, 2020.

In Battle Creek, residents within city limits can simply leave their undecorated tree at the curbside for pickup on your regular trash/recycling pickup day. That offer is good from December 26, 2019 - January 31, 2020.

For Portage residents, the city uses their quarterly Brush Pickup dates that begin the week of January 6th for residents in Zone 1 and ends the week of January 27th for residents in Zone 4.

Do you live outside of these city limits? We've got you covered:

  • Use it for firewood for an outdoor fire pit. This is a great way to repurpose your old tree and keep spirits merry and bright. Do not, however, burn any of your old tree in an indoor fireplace or wood stove. A hazardous chemical called creosote in the trees can build up and cause fires to burn extremely hot, causing fire hazards.
  • Mulch it. Those branches on your old Christmas tree make great mulch for your garden and landscaping and it's free. They DIY method simply has you remove and chip the small branches with the most appropriate tool you happen to have on hand, and spread the bits. Bonus, the fallen pine needles will help your soil retain moisture.
  • Compost it. In fact, a layer of thin branches is the best base for starting a new compost pile. The layer will allow airflow to the bottom of the compost pile. Just cut the tree to fit into your bin or pile and stack 4 to 6 inches high. In time, the branches and tree will break down.
  • Make a bird sanctuary. Get the kids involved for this DIY project. Leave the tree in its stand and place outside. Fill bird feeders and hang them from the branches or place pine cones coated with peanut butter in easy to access places.
  • Donate it to a zoo. Have you ever seen the videos that zoos, wildlife rehabs, nature centers and sanctuaries have posted with their animals enjoying pumpkins, boxes and fresh foods? It's quite a treat to see. Call ahead and plan on transporting your bare tree when going this route.
  • And if all else fails, try contacting the place you purchased the tree from. Some tree farms will actually take the tree back after Christmas.