Skip to Content

How to recycle, donate, or dispose of an artificial Christmas tree

Wondering what to do with your old artificial tree? Here are ideas for how to recycle, donate, repurpose, or trash it!

Are there any fiercer debates than that of real vs faux Christmas tree?

This has long been a Big Discussion in our house, and I know many family members with very strong opinions on the subject.

Personally, I love a fake Christmas tree. They are so easy (pre-lit is my love language) and have the perfect shape and look.

However, storing faux trees year after year can be cumbersome. And, while these fake trees do last for several years, they do not last forever.

Whether your tree is damaged, dated, or you just don’t want to deal with it, disposing of a giant item like a Christmas tree can be confusing and overwhelming.

Today I am excited to round up for you several ideas for how to get rid of a plastic Christmas tree.

I will always advocate for donating, repurposing, or recycling over trashing anything. Let’s run through all of your options!

how to dispose of an artificial christmas tree

What to do with an old artificial Christmas tree

It’s great to use fake trees for many years. However, they do not last forever. If you are ready to dispose of your fake tree, you have a few options for getting rid of it.

I’ll rank the options for tree disposal in order from most to least eco-friendly.

  • Repurpose it
  • Donate it
  • Recycle it
  • Trash it

Let’s dive into each of these options, and see how you might use each way to get rid of your tree.

Holding artificial tree in slatted wood tree collar

How to repurpose an artificial Christmas tree

If you are crafty, you can easily take your fake tree apart and turn it into new Christmas decor! This is an especially good option if your tree is damaged in certain sections or spots.

Use scissors or clippers that are strong enough to cut through the metal branches to disassemble the tree. If the limbs have wire in them, you can use that to make positionable crafts.

If the tree is pre-lit, be very careful about exposed electrical wires but as long as they are unplugged, you should be fine. You might want to use a little bit of electrical tape to cover any exposed wire that can’t be removed.

Here are some ideas for things to upcycle old trees into:

  • Wreath (cut into pieces and attach to any wreath form)
  • Teardrop shaped wall hanging
  • Garlands (connect pieces with floral wire)
  • Napkin rings (for pieces with built-in wiring)
  • Pull off + reuse Christmas lights if possible
  • Centerpiece
  • Turn top section into a tabletop tree
christmas tree covered with mini wooden kids homemade ornaments

How to donate an artificial Christmas tree

There are many thrift stores and charities that accept donations of artificial trees. Other organizations, like nursing homes, might also be looking for functioning trees.

The most important thing when donating a fake Christmas tree is that it be in good shape and work perfectly. Donation centers don’t want to be bogged down with damaged goods and charity groups don’t want to display something that looks second rate.

Always call before trying to donate your tree to a thrift store. Many have limited floor space and only accept holiday decor during certain months of the year. You’re going to have a harder time donating it in January than in November!

If you want it gone quickly, consider listing it for free on Facebook Marketplace. You might have someone who wants to come pick it up!

artificial christmas tree branches that need to be separated

Where to donate artificial Christmas trees

Old artificial Christmas trees that are still attractive and in working order can be donated to:

  • thrift stores
  • churches
  • retirement communities
  • schools
  • preschools/daycares
  • homeless shelters
  • women’s shelters

Remember that most places do not accept Christmas tree donations out of season! Call and ask before you drag it down there!

How to recycle an artificial Christmas tree

Many cities have recycling programs for artificial Christmas trees. Unlike real Christmas trees that are often picked up by the yard waste trucks, artificial trees usually require a scheduled pickup or for you to drop them off at the recycling faciltiy.

Call your local recycling center to see if they have a Christmas tree recycling program! Since they are made from PVC, they can’t just be thrown in with the other recycling and require a special program.

Before taking your tree to be recycled, be sure that all of the ornaments, tinsel, and loose items have been removed.

Where to recycle artificial Christmas trees

Most recycling centers will accept artificial Christmas trees, especially in January. Always call and ask first, especially if it is out of season!

2022 christmas tree

How to dispose of an artificial Christmas tree

There are a few options for disposing of your artificial Christmas tree. Technically, they are considered household waste. So, if they have to go to the dump, you have a few ways to get it there.

Artificial trees can be placed in dumpsters. If you live in an apartment building that has a dumpster, you can stick it in there. If you know a business with a dumpster, ask permission before adding your tree.

You can also disassemble your tree and put it in your trash can. You might have to do one piece a week if it won’t all fit with your regular trash.

Finally, if your city does bulk item pickup, you might can place it on the curb and arrange for a pickup!

How to dispose of artificial christmas trees with lights

Pre-lit Christmas trees can be disposed of just like any other faux tree. Place them in a dumpster, disassemble them and put them in your trash bin, arrange for a bulk item pick up, or drop it off at the dump entirely. Do NOT put them out for real tree pickup – you don’t want one accidentally being mulched!

The bottom line…

An artificial Christmas tree is a great way to spread holiday cheer, but it won’t last forever. If your tree is in good shape but you don’t want it anymore, you can recycle it or donate it.

If your tree is in bad shape and no one would want it, send it off for recycling or disposal if that’s your only choice. And don’t forget to try to reuse the pieces if you’re crafty!

Love Christmas? Click here to get FREE printable funny gift tags sent to your inbox!

Any questions about getting rid of your Christmas tree?

Looking for something?

We’ve been doing this since 2012 so we have a LOT of blog posts!
Search stuff like: Ceiling Projects | DIY Plant Stands | Thrift Flips

Charleston Crafted logo banner