ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The holly has to come down sometime. The ornaments have orna-went back into their boxes. Christmas is over, and now – if it’s a live one – it’s time to think about getting rid of your Christmas tree.

The DEC is asking anyone with a live Christmas tree to think responsibly about how to dispose of it. Your options include composting, donation, and even creating a habitat for local wildlife, if your yard allows it. Here are some ways to deal with the festive conifer dropping pine needles all over your living room.

Mulch and compost

One common option is to use your town or city’s tree collection or recycling program, if applicable. Collection programs turn trees into mulch or compost. It’s important to ensure all decorations have been fully removed from the tree before bringing it to get shredded.

Check with your local municipality to find out if a local tree collection event is taking place near you. The DEC lists some events across the state, but notes that this is not a complete list. The listings include:

  • Monroe County
    • December 2022 – January 2023
  • Seneca County
    • Monday, Dec. 26, 2022 – Monday, Jan. 9, 2023
  • Tompkins County
    • Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022 – Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023
  • New York City
    • Friday, Jan. 6 – Saturday, Jan. 16, 2023
  • Onondaga County
    • Monday, Jan. 2 – Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

Bird habitats

For residences with a large-enough yard, the creation of a bird habitat can be a great project to breathe new life into a tree post-Christmas. Trees can be converted into brush biles that become ample shelter for birds over the course of winter. Creating a home for birds also leads to some opportunities for bird-watching.

The National real Christmas Tree Association recommends placing a tree in the backyard, or a garden, for use as a bird feeder or sanctuary. Orange slices and popcorn can attract birds, who will then take shelter underneath. The branches will become brittle within a year, at which point the tree can be broken down by hand or with a wood chipper.

Donation to farms

In some cases, farms will accept Christmas tree donations. Goats like to eat pine needles, which are rich in vitamin C. Contact your local farms to find out if they’ll take your tree and put it to use furthering local agriculture.