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Recycling your Christmas tree in Madison, WI

A Christmas tree farm

When the only thing decking the halls is pine needles | Photo by @enchantedvalleyacres

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Sure, the holidays are all fun and games — but if you celebrate Christmas, you know that sooner or later you have to deal with that “Night of the Living Dead” tree in the corner. That doesn’t mean it’s dumpster-bound. Instead, we have some tips on how to put an old tree to good use.

Curbside pickup

The City of Madison will recycle your tree for you: all you have to do is bring it out to the curb. There will be two rounds of pickup: one on Jan. 3, one on Jan. 18. Just make sure your tree is out by 6:30 a.m. To make sure it gets properly recycled, you’ll need to remove the tinsel, garland, tree stand + ornaments before bringing it out.

Drop-off recycling

Maybe you just can’t wait for curbside pickup. Drop the tree off yourself at Madison’s drop-off sites. Be sure to properly secure the tree to your car if you opt for this route. Bonus: your holiday boxes, tissue paper + non-foil-lined gift wrap can be dropped off at these same recycling centers.

Natural feeders

Give back to Mother Nature by making a natural bird feeder. Get creative with edible ornaments (think: orange-apple garlands and peanut butter pine cones), then set the tree out for birds to eat + take shelter.

If your property includes a pond or lake, you can toss in the tree to make a natural reef, giving local fish a home. Or, create a temporary forest on one of the city’s lakes for all to enjoy.

Donation opportunity

Local artist Lillian Sizemore is working with the Madison Arts Commission Blink program to construct a temporary public art installation: a labyrinth in Olbrich Park Beach. The project, called “How Lovely are thy Branches,” will be free and open to the public, has a planned opening of Jan. 30, and needs 250 real trees. Drop yours off at the designated site in Olbrich Park any time between Jan. 2-Jan. 29.