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January 4th, 2012 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Christmas Tree Composting

Can I dump my Christmas tree into the compost bin?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

Now that we’ve got weekly compost/yard debris pickup, I figure I should be able to dump my 100 percent-organic Christmas tree into the compost bin and not get charged for tree disposal. Can I? 

—Julie S.

Man, you guys won’t let up with the trash-and-compost questions lately. Either you’re all sustainability wonks, or there’s something about my writing that calls to mind steaming piles of decaying organic waste.

Whichever it is, you’ll be pleased to know that your Christmas trees and wreaths are indeed compostable. But before you toss that tree willy-nilly onto the curb and race off to the bar, mentally counting the vials of crack you’ll buy with the money you’re saving on tree disposal, you should know there’s a catch.

That tree needs to be reduced to the size of other yard debris before your local hauler will take it. That means you’ll have to cut it up, or run it through that wood chipper you bought to take care of Grandma, or otherwise render it into bite-size (no more than 3 feet) chunks. These must fit neatly into the bin, and slide out obligingly when the bin is upended.

Failing that, you can still put out the whole tree and let your hauler deal with it the old-fashioned way. Doing so, however, will cost you $4 or $6, depending on the size of the tree—equal to one or two vials of crack the last time I checked, which was 20 minutes ago.

Finally, a wide variety of church groups, Cub Scout troops and other assorted do-gooders will take the tree off your hands for a fee, as a fundraiser. This won’t save you any money, but if you somehow have some Christmas spirit left over after the holiday bloodbath (you freak), it’s a nice thing to do.

 
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