How to dispose of holiday decorations in San Diego

Undeck the halls with these recycling and trash pickup tips.

Xmas tree Michael Beausoleil

Farewell, Christmas tree.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

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Hello 2023. The holidays are over, so it may be about time to undeck the halls. These festive displays can look nice, but they’re often bulky and unkind to the environment if thrown away improperly. So, let’s kick off the New Year with clean and healthy disposal of holiday decor that won’t overcrowd landfills.

🌲 Curbside tree pickup

County residents who receive yard waste collection have the option to have real Christmas trees picked up during specified time frames. Different parts of the county follow different timelines, and residents may need to prepare their tree for collectors by removing ornaments or cutting it to a specific size.

If you have a green bin and deadlines have passed, you can cut your tree to fit into the container and have it disposed with other yard waste.

🛻 Tree drop-offs

We hope you saved the rope, because you can tie any real tree to the top of your car and bring it to a drop off location — just make sure to take off decorations like ornaments and tinsel. The City of San Diego has 17 specified locations and the county has dozens of additional sites where you can recycle trees. Timelines vary, but some drop-off sites will be operating until the end of January.

📦 Packaging and decorations

If Santa left you with a closet full of cardboard boxes, there’s good news. They can be broken down and put right into blue recycling bins. Cardboard greeting cards can be disposed in a similar fashion, but any packaging and cards with other materials (think glitter, metallic lining, or cellophane) cannot be placed in blue bins.

Thinking of getting a real tree next Christmas? You can’t recycle artificial trees, lights, and holiday decorations, but you can keep them out of landfills. Consider donating your artificial tree to a local nonprofit like Goodwill or Father Joe’s Villages so they’ll be reused — and you’ll earn an early spot on the nice list.