Make Your Christmas Tree a Giving Tree: Recycle It

San Diego, California - We love them, twinkling with holiday lights, adorned with ornaments and loaded with gifts beneath them. But eventually, we all have to say goodbye to our Christmas tree.

And if yours is a real tree, the County of San Diego urges you to recycle it properly. Check with your trash company to find out if they offer curbside pickup—many do. Or go to San Diego County’s recycling and hazardous waste database at to find Christmas tree drop-off sites. Just type “Christmas tree” and your location information into the search bar.

Leaving your old Christmas tree, or wreaths, around the house or in the yard can create a fire danger as they continue to dry out. Tossing them out in the trash, rather than recycling them, also creates problems. First, old trees would fill up landfills and take up space that should be used to dispose of other kinds of trash. Second, even though they are biodegradable, Christmas trees, wreaths, lawn clippings and other “green waste” can create unwanted greenhouse gas emissions as they slowly decompose in landfills.

On the other hand, when recycled, trees and wreaths are composted into mulch that can be used to improve soil health and keep water from evaporating out of soil at public parks, local farms, and home gardens and landscapes.

Here are a few tips to get you started toward recycling your old tree:

  • Remove ornaments, garland, tinsel, lights, nails, tree bags and tree stands before recycling.
  • Trees taller than 4 feet should be cut in half.
  • Check with your local recycler to see if they’ll accept flocked trees.
  • If you’re getting rid of an artificial Christmas tree, and it’s in good condition, donate it.

For more information about recycling, go to the County Department of Public Works’ Solid Waste Planning and Recycling webpage.