There are many popular Christmas traditions out there, but my family’s favorite is picking the perfect tree and decorating it with lights and ornaments. Plus, you can't beat the fresh pine scent of a real Christmas tree! According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), more than 300 million Christmas trees are grown by farmers across the United States. Of that number, about 30 million are sold annually throughout the country.

After the holiday season excitement, most people might not think twice about how they dispose of their tree. However, the NCTA site clarifies that real Christmas trees are recyclable and biodegradable. This season, explore one of these tree recycling options in your area.

Find a local recycling program

Christmas tree pickup programs vary by location. However, most community waste management services will collect trees – typically the two weeks after Christmas – during their regular schedule. They'll collect your tree, chip it down and use it for mulch around your community. Waste Management reminds residents to remove the tree stand and any decorations before sending their tree to the curb.

In addition, some areas have free recycling drop-off locations for Christmas trees. For example, residents in the City of Houston can leave their trees at one of 18 locations across the city. If you're unsure of Christmas tree recycle programs offered around your area, visit your city's website to learn more details.

Save and reuse tree remains

Did you know recycled Christmas tree parts can be used around your yard and throughout the environment? The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) explains how tree branches and needles are used to enrich soil or benefit wildlife restoration initiatives. You can chip down these remains and use them for garden bed mulch.

Also, some community parks utilize Christmas tree mulch to cushion running paths and hiking trails. Don't want to chip down your tree? Let a local environmental program reuse it! The NCTA says Christmas trees also can be reused as feeding areas in bird or fish habitats.

Replant your tree for next Christmas

Typically, Christmas tree farms offer both cut trees and live trees. Cut trees aren't considered "live" because their roots aren't attached. If you're thinking about replanting your tree after the holidays, you'll want to purchase a live tree. Its roots are either planted in a pot or wrapped in a burlap bag. However, keep in mind that replanting a Christmas tree requires preparation and maintenance. If you're up for the challenge, be sure to ask your tree farmer or retailer for helpful replanting tips!

Don't let your Christmas tree go to waste once the holidays wind down. With multiple recycling options to choose from, you have the opportunity to join in on your community's green initiatives.

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