Christmas Tree Recycling and Upcycling


by Teale Niles

In the US we buy 25-30 million fresh cut Christmas trees each year (1). Those trees don’t have to end up in the landfill now that the holidays are over! Here are four easy ways to recycle your tree (2). And also a few more ideas for those feeling inspired!

1. Curbside Recycling

Live in the City of Portland and have curbside yard debris collection? Cut up your tree and place it completely into your green compost roll bin. This is free! Alternatively, you can place whole trees that are 6 feet or shorter on the curb for pick up on your regular pickup day for a $4.50 fee. Trees over 6 feet should be cut in half. There will be a $4.50 fee for each piece.

2. Environmentally Conscious Recycling (ERC)

This recycling company in NE Portland will take your tree (flocked and unflocked) for a mere $2 apiece!
Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 a.m-5 p.m.
12409 NE San Rafael

3. Bring it to the Boy Scouts

In Lake Oswago there is a 3 day tree recycling event on Jan. 1-3
Drop off your tree, and suggested donation at:
West End Building
4101 Kruse Way
Lake Oswego, Or

If you live in Tigard, sign up here for curbside pick up
Jan. 2, 3, 9 & 10, 9 a.m.

And in Beaverton on Jan. 2, 3 & 9 You can bring your tree to this address for recycling:
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
12405 SW Butner Rd.

4. McFarlane’s Bark

Conveniently located in both Milwaukie and Vancouver, McFarlane’s Bark is charging $3 to recycle each Christmas tree.

Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
13345 SE Johnson Rd.
Milwaukie, Or

8806 NE 117 th Ave.
Vancouver, Wa

Upcycle Your Tree

Trees taken to the recycling programs above will most likely get chipped and used as mulch. Which is way better than taking up space in a landfill. But, why stop there? There are tons of other ways to use a used Christmas tree.

Create salmon habitat. The Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited will be collecting trees to be placed in streams. Submerged trees act as shelter for baby salmon and also attract microorganism and other critters which the salmon eat. Read the full story here.

Drop off your tree on Jan. 4, 11 and 18th from 9 am to 4 pm
Royal Treatment Fly Shop, 21570 Willamette Dr., in West Linn; AND
Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters, 10910 NE Halsey, in Portland.

Turn your tree into a backyard bird feeder. Be sure to remove all tinsel and ornaments first. Then place it in your backyard, hang some bird treats on it (such as pine cones covered in peanut butter and seeds) and voila! The winter birds will love you! The tree will start to decompose and before too long you’ll be able to break it apart by hand and use it around your backyard landscape.

Around the nation people and organizations use Christmas trees in creative and resourceful ways. Christmas trees can be used to feed goats, to rebuild sand dunes, and even build houses (3)!  The National Christmas Tree Associations has a huge list of Christmas tree recycling programs from around the nation. Check it out!


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