How to safely dispose of your Christmas tree

Wrapping up the holiday decorations

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(ABC 6 News) – As the holiday seasons goes away, so do the holiday decorations that have brightened so many homes this holiday season.

If you decided on a real Christmas tree this year, there’s a good reason you shouldn’t procrastinate getting rid of it. Disposing of your Christmas tree properly is crucial for the sake of the environment.

Christmas trees can hide dangerous pests so it’s important to know how you can safely dispose your holiday greens.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says it’s important to safely dispose of them in order to protect our trees and forests.

“With Christmas trees and other Christmas decorations, they can come from other parts of the country, and it can bring invasive insects along with them or pathogens,” division director at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Mark Abrahamson said.

One of those invasive insects is called elongate hemlock scale.

Elongate hemlock scale is an exotic scale insect that feeds on various trees, causing their leaves to yellow or wilt. This pest is believed to originate from Japan, first spotted domestically in New York in 1908.

It’s currently established in the eastern United States, but it has been intercepted in Minnesota on holiday greenery since 2018.

That’s why the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says you should get rid of your live tree sooner rather than later.

“Don’t put them out in your compost pile or your backyard and let them sit until summer because if there were things that came along with them, then they can wake up and go out and perhaps cause problems here,” Abrahamson said.

The best option is to use a curbside tree collection service or bring your tree to a designated drop-off site.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a map of yard waste compost locations.

If your city or county does not have an organized pick-up or drop off the last resort is to burn the greens.