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The Christmas tree is a beloved symbol of the holiday season, and many Louisiana residents choose a natural, freshly-cut tree. Live Christmas trees offer many advantages over artificial ones, such as being more environmentally friendly and adding a natural pine smell to your home that can’t be replicated.

However, after the holidays are over, a real tree must be disposed of rather than being packed up and stored away. Doing so safely and properly often poses a challenge to families that don’t know the best way to proceed. Read on to learn how to safely dispose of your Christmas tree once the holidays are over.

Why Safe Christmas Tree Disposal is Essential

It may not be clear why properly disposing of a Christmas tree is so important. There are two main reasons for safely disposing of a natural tree: fire safety and environmental concerns.

Fire Safety

The first reason to properly dispose of your dead tree is a matter of your personal safety, and the safety of anyone you live with. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 160 home-structure fires occur annually nationwide due to Christmas trees, and some of these fires occurred after the tree was taken down, but before it was disposed of.

Allowing a dry tree to remain in your home for too long can increase your fire risk. According to a National Institute of Standards and Technology study in which a watered tree and a dry tree were used to simulate a house fire, an old, dry Christmas tree was more likely to catch fire than a fresh one. In fact, their watered tree did not catch fire after three attempts, whereas the dry one ignited immediately.

It doesn’t require actual fire to be near the tree for a Christmas tree to ignite, either. 34% of tree fires, according to the NFPA, start from electrical malfunctions, such as defective string lights.

Safely disposing of your Christmas tree in a timely manner after Christmas is critical to limiting fire risks within your home.

Environmental Concerns

The environmental factor is the second reason you should correctly dispose of your tree. Even if trees are 100% biodegradable, improper disposal may send the tree to take up space in a landfill, and could prevent the tree from properly breaking down over time.

Recycling is also faster and more efficient, as it helps ensure the tree is reused or turned into beneficial resources. For example, one of the most common uses for recycling a natural Christmas tree is to produce mulch or compost.

You can even recycle the tree yourself using a saw or renting a wood chipper to turn your tree into outdoor firewood or wood chips.

How to Safely Dispose of My Christmas Tree

Once the holidays have ended, check whether your city or parish has a Christmas tree collection program, and if they do, note down the collection dates and hours.

Most collection programs will only take completely bare natural trees. Ensure all ornaments, Christmas lights, and other decorations have been removed, then leave your tree curbside during the trash collection periods, making sure not to block the road or sidewalk.

Any artificial trees, trees placed in bags, or trees with unremoved decorations will instead be treated like regular trash and will go to the landfill.

Drop-off Locations

If your area doesn’t have a collection program or if you prefer to drop it off yourself, check whether your city or locality offers drop-off locations, such as recycling centers. Some home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot may also accept dead Christmas trees for recycling.

Although each location will have different rules on which trees are allowed, most won’t accept trees if they are bagged, decorated, or painted. To safely transport your tree to the recycler, bundle it in a blanket or tarp to ensure the branches are tucked tightly together, place the tree on top of the car with the tree stump toward the front, and tie it down securely using rope or bungee cords.

If your car has a roof rack, you can secure the tree to the rack. If not, open all the doors and feed the rope through the car to secure it down. It’s important to properly secure your tree to avoid it falling off and causing a crash.

Contact Dudley DeBosier for a Free Case Review

At Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, we work tirelessly on behalf of the communities of Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Houma, Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport, and the surrounding areas.

If you’ve been in a car accident involving an improperly secured Christmas tree, our experienced team of Louisiana personal injury lawyers can provide you with dedicated legal representation. We can ensure you obtain compensation for the damages to your car and your injuries, pain, and suffering.

Schedule a free consultation with us today and discover the Dudley DeBosier difference.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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