Resolve to Recycle More Than Just Your Christmas Tree

Chrismas Tree RecyclingWith the holidays in the rear view mirror, you should have your previously living cut Christmas tree down by now and out of the house. But the job isn’t finished until you make sure to recycle the tree.

The easiest thing to do for most households in San Diego is to put it out for collection with your regular greenery pickup. If you don’t have greenery pickup, there are 16 drop-off locations available. The City of San Diego will accept your tree through January 23 by either method. After January 23, the Miramar Landfill Greenery will take it year-round, along with any other vegetation for recycling.

If you drop off your tree at Miramar, take advantage of the free mulch or compost available for residents. You can load it into containers or a truck bed for use in your garden.

If you aren’t in the City of San Diego, check with your city or private collector. Most offer curbside pickup for at least two weeks after Christmas, and provide drop-off locations for a longer period of time.

Here's a clever recycling project from the Birds and Blooms blog using tree branches. Your Christmas tree is a good source.

Here’s a clever recycling project from the Birds and Blooms blog using tree branches. Your Christmas tree is a good source.

But if you’re a little more ambitious, there are several other ways to reuse and repurpose your tree. Some possibilities:

  • You can turn it into mulch in your own yard, especially if you have access to a wood chipper.
  • You can use it as the base layer (flooring) in your compost bin.
  • You can use the trunk and larger branches as garden stakes for other plants. They look a lot better than manufactured wood stakes.
  • You can use the trunk and branches to built your own rustic style trellis if you’re a little bit handy. Here’s an example from the Birds and Blooms blog.
  • The trunk and branches can be applied to a plain window box to create a more natural looking planter for home or garden.
  • If you use shrub shelters to protect plants from frost or freezing temperatures, you can use the branches to create a natural looking roof. Or you can even use the branches themselves to protect your more delicate plants during cold nights.

And don’t stop your recycling efforts with the tree. You should also consider recycling any old Christmas lights that you have. Broken and damaged lights are obvious candidates, but if you have the old-fashioned types of bulbs, consider retiring these less energy efficient lights before next Christmas and replacing them with LED-type lights. The LED lighting is low cost and extremely energy efficient – 80 percent more efficient than incandescent lights. They last 20 years, which is seven times longer than incandescent lights, another great reason to switch.

For me, the most important advantage of LED lights is that they don’t heat up, minimizing the risk of your Christmas tree becoming a fire hazard.

Even if your old lights are working, considering recycling them by trading them in. Many home improvement retailers will accept trade-ins before the holidays and give you a discount toward new light strands. But if you’ve missed that window, there are several companies that allow you to ship them your old lights, and they will also offer coupons or discounts toward the purchase of new lights. Get more information about these year-round programs at the website.

If this isn’t an option, pack up those old lights now and hold onto them until next year, and take advantage of the local recycling programs at places like Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. Next Christmas isn’t that far away. Oh no, did I just write that?!

So gather up your old strings of incandescent Christmas lights–whether or not they still work– and head to your nearest Home Depot store to trade them in. Dump them in the Christmas light recycling box, and pick up your coupon for money off the purchase of new, energy efficient LED Christmas lights.

Get more information about recycling your lights and many other items at Recycle San Diego’s website.