Now that the new year has come, many Christmas celebrants are beginning to take down their holiday tree. Ornaments are wrapped with paper and tucked away safely for next year’s use. Artificial trees are de-fluffed and stuffed back into a box to be put back into storage, but what about the real Christmas trees?

Real Christmas trees are easier to dispose of than one might think. While the task may seem daunting, it’s actually a pretty easy process thanks to a few different factors. Real Christmas trees are recyclable and the Tullahoma Public Works Department makes it easy for citizens to dispose of their real tree.

Public works is now accepting cut Christmas trees at the recycling convenience center. Trees must be free of stands, lights, ornaments nails and tinsel. Trees can be dropped off at the Public Works Department or conveniently picked up curbside.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, real Christmas trees can easily be reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes. Along with the city’s public works department, the community’s used real Christmas trees will be put to good use this year.

“The city contracts with a third party to mulch the trees,” said Public Information Officer Winston Brooks. “Once the trees are mulched, the mulch is sold for people to use in their gardens.”

While the mulch from the Christmas trees can be used in gardens, it can also be used on paths for hiking trails to better assist area hikers.

Recycling the trees also has an economic benefit to the community.

“Keeping Christmas trees and all brush and yard waste out of the landfill is important to the city of Tullahoma,” said Brooks. “It costs approximately $50 per ton to bury trash in the landfills. By recycling the trees, this reduces our cost and saves space in the landfills which are difficult to operate and open new ones. This is one reason the city places so much emphasis on providing leaf removal services for residents with the vacuum truck or bio-degradable bags.”

Trees are being accepted at the public works department during its regular operating hours. The department is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday; from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with a break from noon to 1 p.m. The center is located at 942 Maplewood Ave. in Tullahoma.

Curbside tree pickup is also available with your normal debris collection.

For addresses with regularly scheduled garbage pickup day is on:

Tuesday: debris will be picked up on the first week of the month.

Wednesday: debris will be picked up on the second week of the month.

Thursday: debris will be picked up on the third week of the month.

Friday: debris will be picked up on the fourth week of the month.

Be sure to have all debris, trees, leaves and brush at the curb on Monday of brush collection week. The department reminds residents to keep trees and brush out of the road.

“Recycling your Christmas tree is easy,” Brooks said. “Place the tree on the street during your regularly scheduled brush pick up. If your brush pick up is based on a Thursday or Friday recycle pick up day, I would move the Christmas tree out of the house as soon as possible due to the fire hazard a dying tree can pose, especially if it was put up in early November.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, United States fire departments responded to an estimated average of 200 home structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees between 2011-2015. Four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January. Fires can be started because a dying tree could be too close to a heat source such as a candle or electrical equipment.

“Start the New Year right and recycle your tree and all your other recyclables,” Brooks said. “It is easy. Just put your recyclables out by your garbage can the same day your garbage is emptied.”

For more information, call 931-454-1768.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.