8 Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

8 Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

Dec, 25, 2023

8 Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

You can take the tinsel down when the holidays are over, but don’t throw your Christmas tree in the trash bin! Landfills shouldn’t be a Christmas tree’s final resting place because it will not decompose as you might expect. The lack of oxygen in landfills makes it difficult for trees to biodegrade quickly, and they can take up a lot of space and may create methane gas which is one of the most potent greenhouse gases.

8 Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
8 Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

Here are eight sustainable ways to dispose of your Christmas tree after the holidays:

  1. Use leftover pine needles for garden mulch.

    Because pine needles decompose slowly, they make excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for your garden. That’s why our family always uses leftover pine needles as mulch in our garden beds.
  2. Chip your tree, and use it in your soil.

    Feed your tree through a wood chipper, and use the wood chips in your garden to reduce weeds and add nutrients to your soil.
  3. Use smaller branches as stakes for your plants.

    Strip branches bare to create a fantastic frame for flowers or beans to grow up tall.
  4. Recycle through curbside pick-up.

    Most cities will collect discarded trees during their regular pickup schedules in the two weeks following Christmas. For curbside collection, remember to remove any ornaments and stands first.
  5. Place your tree in yard waste pickup.

    If you’re planning to put your tree in the yard waste bin, make sure to cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.
  6. Compost it.

    You can naturally compost your tree simply by cutting it into smaller pieces. It might take a while to decompose, so help it along by breaking down the tree first as much as possible.
  7. Use leftover branches to cover your garden beds.

    Strip the tree branches from the trunk, and use them to protect your garden beds during the colder months.
  8. Recycle at a drop-off location.

    Check your local Christmas tree recycling program for the best drop-off location.

    Here in San Diego, it begins the day after Christmas until January 23rd. There are 17 drop-off locations:
  • Carmel Valley – Carmel Valley Recreation Center, 3777 Townsgate Drive (lower parking lot)
  • Encanto – Cielo Drive at Woodman Street
  • Golden Hill – Golden Hill Recreation Center, 2600 Golf Course Drive
  • Logan Heights – Memorial Recreation Center, 2902 Marcy Ave.
  • Miramar – Miramar Greenery Recycling at Miramar Landfill, 5180 Convoy St. (accepts trees throughout the year)
  • Mission Bay – SeaWorld Drive at Pacific Highway
  • Mountain View – Ocean View Boulevard at 40th Street (north side)
  • Oak Park – Chollas Lake, 6350 College Grove Drive (Gloria Mesa parking lot)
  • Ocean Beach – Robb Field Recreation Center, 2525 Bacon St.
  • Otay Mesa/Nestor – Montgomery Waller Community Park (lower parking lot, southeast corner of Palm Avenue and Beyer Boulevard)
  • Pacific Beach – Kate Sessions Memorial Park, corner of Mount Soledad Road and Loring Street
  • Rancho Bernardo – Rancho Bernardo Recreation Center, 18448 West Bernardo Drive
  • Rancho Penasquitos – Canyonside Recreation Center, 12350 Black Mountain Road
  • San Diego State University – Parking lot 17 off Alvarado Road
  • Scripps Ranch – Scripps Ranch Recreation Center, 11454 Blue Cypress Drive
  • Tierrasanta – Tierrasanta Community Park, 11220 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. (pool parking lot)
  • University City – Standley Community Park (parking lot), 3585 Governor Drive

Christmas trees are not the only holiday “waste” you can recycle, check out this post about making kids crafts out of recycled holiday waste. And here is also a post about frugal family winter activities

Here are some more reads about what to do with your Christmas tree after the holiday:

10 ways you can put your old Christmas tree to use

10 creative ways you can repurpose your real Christmas tree after the festive season

How and where to recycle your old Christmas tree

Fredrika Syren

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