New life for old trees Post-Christmas greenery makes for excellent fish habitat (copy)

Charleston County residents can bring their Christmas trees to the Bees Ferry Landfill recycling center. Brad Nettles/Staff

The town of Mount Pleasant hasn't been picking up as many curbside Christmas trees as in the past.

"It's actually surprising," said Jody Peele, director of public services.

Maybe people are recycling the trees themselves at the Charleston County landfill. Could be the trees are being sunk to build artificial reefs to attract fish.

Or perhaps it's just that more people are buying artificial trees, he said.

The popularity of fake Christmas trees has boomed. Of an estimated 95 million American households with Christmas trees this year, 81 percent displayed fake ones, according to an American Christmas Tree Association survey conducted by Nielsen.

If you have a live tree, don't burn it in a fireplace or wood stove because firs and pines have lots of sap, which can explode. The needles burn like tinder, quickly and fiercely, and flames can flare up out of control sending sparks flying across a room.

It may also cause a fire in the chimney when creosote deposits are ignited, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Instead of burning the tree indoors, put it by the side of the road to be picked-up for recycling on yard debris day in Mount Pleasant, Summerville and Charleston.

At the Charleston County landfill, the trees are ground and turned into compost. Residents who drop off a tree at the Bees Ferry compost facility from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 will receive a free bag of compost. Lights, tinsel and ornaments must be removed from a tree before it can be recycled at the county facility. Gift wrap, tissue paper, gift bags, boxes and cardboard can also be recycled through the curbside program and at the numerous drop-site locations and convenience centers located throughout Charleston County.

Like trees, gift wrap should not be burned in the fireplace because a flash fire may result as the wrapping paper ignites suddenly and burns intensely causing large flames which can cause a chimney fire when creosote deposits are ignited.

Dorchester County residents who live within the municipal limits of the city of North Charleston or the town of Summerville can place their trees curbside for pick-up as part of their regularly scheduled yard debris removal service. Lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands and other non-organic decorative materials must be removed before the tree can be recycled. The county also has the Miles Road and Sandy Pines drop-off centers.

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