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Don’t throw out your Christmas tree in the alley. Turn it into mulch for a Chicago park.

Recycle your tree!

A pile of Christmas trees waiting to be recycled.
Christmas trees in Humboldt Park.
Sara Freund

Planning to turn over a new leaf this year by making your home more environmentally conscious? Start the year off right by recycling your Christmas tree.

Last year through the city’s program, more than 17,000 Christmas trees were composted. That means about 640,000 pounds of organic waste was diverted from landfills and turned into a free gardening resource for parks and residences.

Every holiday season, the U.S. spends over a billion dollars on fresh-cut trees—and it’s easier than ever to turn that into a resource instead of waste. If you’ve opted for a real tree this year, you can recycle it at 25 Chicago parks from Saturday, January 4 to Saturday, January 18.

Chicago’s tree recycling program creates mulch which is used in local parks to protect and nourish the soil. Residents can also take advantage of the program and, beginning Tuesday, January 7th, can pick up free mulch at six park locations. (Need mulch for the spring planting season? You can get it for free year-round, too. Just bring your own container!)

Unfortunately, the city just recycles trees—no wreaths or garlands. However, neighborhood composting service like Healthy Soil Compost or Collective Resource will certainly be able to take those. If you’re not subscribed to a pick-up service and would rather drop-off, you can do so at the Green City Farmers Markets locations.