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How to properly dispose of your Christmas tree and decorations

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says the best thing to do is use a curbside tree collection service or bring your tree to a designated drop-off site.

MINNESOTA, USA — The holidays are coming to a close, and sooner or later it'll be time to get rid of the Christmas tree.

If you had a fresh tree this year, there are extra steps you'll need to take to dispose of it, otherwise unwanted hitchhikers could cause damage to Minnesota landscapes.

"It's called the elongate hemlock scale," said Mark Abrahamson with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "It's not present in Minnesota as far as we know. It is pretty common through the mid-Atlantic portion of the country, which is where a lot of Christmas trees are grown."

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says the best thing you can do is use a curbside tree collection service or bring your tree to a designated drop-off site.

"Somewhere where those trees will get ground up and then composted and so that will destroy the insects," said Abrahamson.

Depending on where you live, burning your Christmas tree is an option.

Abrahamson says it's never a good idea to throw the Christmas trees out into the backyard or the woods. That's because when it gets warm, the elongate hemlock scale can emerge from the trees if they're present.  

Experts say if you had an artificial tree this year, you should box it up for next year. Or donate it. Wreaths or other decorative greens can go in the trash.

As for decorations, experts say old Christmas lights are recyclable. Any gift bags or tissue paper can be saved for next year.

"Minnesotans, they're pretty good about abiding by those messages about helping to protect our environment," said Abrahamson. 

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