With the end of the holiday season rearing, many may be unsure how to clean up the holiday mess. Resources are available throughout San Diego County to properly dispose of Christmas trees. 

The county of San Diego and I Love A Clean San Diego published a tree recycling guide at WasteFreeSD.org, which has a 2021 listing for curbside and drop-off locations beginning Dec.26 throughout the region. 

Residents in the City of Chula Vista are advised to place trees at the curb on any regular collection day. Remove all ornaments, tinsel, garland, and plastic or metal stands and, if possible, cut them into 4-foot sections. Visit republicservices.com for more information. 

According to I Love a Clean San Diego, cut or living Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly than plastic trees as it reduces the use of toxic materials and fossil fuels. Trees may be composted or transformed into mulch, which reduces landfill space and greenhouse gas emissions. 

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, organic materials like Christmas Trees, food, and yard clippings make two-thirds of the solid waste stream. A new California state law (SB 1383) aims to limit the waste of organic materials, like Christmas trees, food scraps, soiled paper, yard trimmings, and more. 

Residents in Chula Vista may learn more by visiting the city’s web page or visiting Republic Services

The following is a list of tips provided by the County of San Diego and I Love A Clean San Diego to prepare a fully recycled tree.

  • Do not flock or buy flocked trees. Fake snow (flock) contains chemicals that interfere with the composting process.
  • If you choose to use tinsel, it must be removed entirely (and placed in the trash) from your tree before it can be recycled. The best option, don’t buy tinsel. It is a wasteful single-use plastic.
  • Before recycling, make sure to remove all ornaments, garlands, lights, nails, tree bags, and tree stands (metal or plastic).
  • For areas where curbside tree recycling is available, trees taller than four feet should be cut in half. It is recommended that pieces be under four feet.
  • Reuse or donate artificial trees that are in good condition. Purchasing new plastic trees creates more waste and greenhouse gasses.
  • Don’t let real trees sit around too long after the holidays. They can dry out and become fire hazards.
  • Organic wreaths and similar decorations can be recycled with trees.

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