How to give holiday greenery a second life


Nearly every holiday decoration that was once alive can get a second life.

Whether you chose a fir, pine, balsam, spruce or boxwood to adorn your home, all of these types of cut trees can be mulched. All that ground-up bark, needles and wood will be in hot demand in the spring. But, for the here and now, check with the local departments of public works for the schedule of pick-ups and drop-offs.

And keep this one detail in mind: The trees must be stripped of all ornamentation. It should look like the tree you purchased, sans the few hundred needles it dropped. Trees are processed separately from other recyclables, so even though it might seem logical to send the metal or plastic tree stand along for recycling, the tree needs to be bare. This also means that plastic bags intended for use in containing the pine needles post-holiday must be removed from the tree when it’s placed at the curb or dropped off for composting.  

In addition to the trees, you can add other assorted kinds of holiday greenery to leaf and yard waste bags. Dead poinsettias, berries, pinecones, twigs and chestnuts that weren’t roasted on an open fire can all be either added to a home composting bin or collected with the dead trees. 

“All of that organic matter should be returned back to the earth,” said Sarah Kite, director of recycling services at R.I. Resource Recovery. “If it’s mixed in with household trash, it will end up in the Central Landfill and waste space that needs to be reserved for inorganic trash.”

For general information about sorting holiday trash, go to or call 942-1430.




YES: The tree and nothing but the tree

NO: Tinsel, garland, ornaments, plastic bags, tree stands, lights


YES: Just the greens, real berries, pinecones, and anything that was once living

NO: Bows, wire, florist tape, ornaments


YES: Just the greens, real berries, pinecones, anything that was once living

NO: Bows, wire, florist tape, ornaments


YES: Greens, real berries, pinecones, twigs, flowers

NO: Bows, candles, florist foam, tape, vase, baskets, ornaments


YES: Chestnuts, gourds, real berries, pinecones, twigs, poinsettias, fruit, mistletoe

NO: Plastic, metal, greasy, waxy


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