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Taking Down Christmas: Disposal Tips and Tricks
Taking Down Christmas: Disposal Tips and Tricks Image

Holiday season is here! A lot of fun and relaxation comes with enjoying fantastic feasts, gift-giving, and holiday decorating. While we should all take this time to enjoy the important things in life, it’s important to recognize that a whole lot of waste comes with the holiday season as well.  From Christmas trees to unwanted presents, there are a lot of opportunities for things to get disposed of improperly leading to polluted stormwater systems and brimming landfills. 


So, while you’re busy enjoying the holidays, consider the following:


What Do I Do with My Giant Christmas Tree? 


There’s nothing that screams the holidays are here like a well-decorated Christmas tree. But, after the holly jolly times have passed what are you supposed to do with that big beautiful tree? 


Living Trees


Believe it or not, living trees are not nearly as environmentally unfriendly as you may think because they are able to be recycled and turned into mulch or compost, then put back into our communities. There are a few steps that must be followed first however:


  1. REMOVE all decorations, tinsel, and stand from the tree.
  2. CUT* the tree into pieces, if needed, to fit into the green bin.
  3. PLACE the tree pieces inside the green bin and put out for regular pick-up on collection day.

*If your Christmas tree is too big to cut and place inside the green bin, simply place the tree curbside next to your green waste bin on collection day.



X-mas Tree Disposal


Plastic Trees


Plastic trees carry with them one major downside…they can’t be recycled and end up in the landfill. The beauty of plastic trees is that they don’t need to be disposed of. They can be torn down and stored in anticipation of next year’s festivities. Just remember that if you want to dispose of any of the ornaments or tinsel that called your tree home over the holiday season, then make sure they end up in the proper place. Tinsel unfortunately cannot be recycled and must be thrown away or donated. The same goes for ornaments with the exception of paper ornaments with no glitter (which can be recycled). It may be better, however; to keep your old ornaments and tinsel and reuse them for years to come. This keeps them out of the landfills and on your future trees instead. 


What To Do With All of the Wrapping Scraps?


A large chunk of holiday waste comes from wrapping presents. While it may seem like just paper, disposing of these wrapping materials can be more difficult than you might initially think. 


According to CalRecycle, plain wrapping paper that doesn’t have glitter can be recycled just like normal paper and the same goes for holiday cards, as long as they don’t contain glitter. If they have been bombarded by a glitter bomb, then they must be thrown away and sent to the landfill. 


Perhaps the biggest nuisance for recycling plant managers are ribbons. These beautiful, seemingly harmless finishing touches can get caught in much of the machinery that helps sort our recyclables. For this reason, ribbons are best sent to the landfill.



What About Unwanted Gifts?


We’ve all been there…somebody got you something that you already have or misjudged your sense of fashion. Whatever the reason, after smiling and saying thanks, there are many ways to dispose of these gifts without wreaking havoc on the environment and your friendship. 


Try one of these methods instead of trashing it: Regift It, Donate It, Return It, Sell It, Swap It, or Just Keep It. You may not have enjoyed that present, but that doesn’t mean that others feel the same way. Keep the spirit of giving going and let your unwanted gifts find a new home. Americans are guilty of throwing away nearly $16 Billion worth of unwanted gifts each year. Don’t contribute to the buildup in our landfills and the litter on our streets. Instead recycle those gifts by either finding them a new home yourself or giving them to a charity that can find them a new home. 


Have any other questions about disposing waste? Feel free to contact us on lastormwater@lacity.org


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