Still getting around to taking down those decorations? The Michigan DNR has several tips for dealing with holiday wreaths and Christmas trees. Several studies have shown the risk of household fires is particularly high during the Christmas period and Christmas tree fires have been shown to result in more deaths, compared to other household fires.

In a press release on Monday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests there’s an alternative to cramming decorations like wreaths, garlands or Christmas trees into the trash can. The easiest option is to break up foliage and add it to a compost pile to mix with other organic material, eventually decomposing and enriching the soil. You can view composting tips from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to get started.

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Another option, for those with enough yard space, is scattering branches near a woodland edge. This option is available for residents on their own property, but don’t dispose of trees on public lands or waterways.  Before placing foliage outdoors, make sure there are no ribbons, wires, fake berries or bits of tinsel still attached.

“Wires and ornament hooks could entangle wildlife, and fake berries could be swallowed if mistaken for the real thing,” said DNR wildlife outreach coordinator Rachel Leightner.

Dry conifers can be flammable so make sure to spread foliage out instead of placing it in one big pile.

Finally, if there’s no space to compost a tree on your property, or if local ordinances don’t allow it, The DNR recommends checking for a curbside pickup program or community compost drop-off site near you.

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