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Your Guide to a Greener Holiday Season

Each year, more than 25% more waste is generated during the holiday season than any other time throughout the year. This 25% means an increase in trash by 1 million tons per week, or 5 million extra tons between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day! By practicing simple, earth friendly behaviors, we can significantly reduce the amount of garbage that is landfilled during the festive season.

Buying and Decorating Holiday Trees

If holiday trees are a part of your holiday celebration, here are some important facts to consider when purchasing your tree.

  • Living trees can be replanted, or donated to be replanted, and allowed to continue living.
  • Rent a live tree at Rent a Living Christmas Tree.
  • Here are a few locations that sell living trees:
    • Bongard’s Treescape Nursery, 12460 Highway 92, Half Moon Bay, 650-726-4568
    • Wegman’s Nursery, 492 Woodside Road, Redwood City, 650-368-5908
    • M&M Nursery, 332 Woodside Road, Redwood City, 650-366-4429
  • Make your own tree ornaments. Jewelry can be taken apart for beads, which children could enjoy using as decorations on handmade ornaments. Your entire tree can be decorated with recycled items using soda cans, paper towel rolls, and CDs. Cut out images from cards for decorations. Using paper to cut out snowflake designs would also be a great way of contributing to an eco-friendly holiday theme. More ideas of easy crafts and tree decorations, including ones specifically for children.
  • Try alternatives to tinsel, such as strands of popcorn, macaroni or icicle lights. If you do choose tinsel, make sure that you remove all of it before recycling the tree and reuse it next year. Tinsel cannot be recycled.
Holiday Cards

The amount of cards sold during the holiday season, 1.9 billion, would fill a football field 10 stories high, and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees, (Source: CalRecycle). A few creative solutions and purchasing ideas could drastically reduce that amount while still allowing you to keep in touch with your loved ones.

  • Send electronic cards through a local company Care2.com that generates donations on behalf of sustainable projects locally and around the world.
  • You may donate unused cards to SCRAP, a resource center that supplies schools, nonprofits, artists and the public. Drop them off or mail them to: SCRAP, 801 Toland St., San Francisco, CA 94124
  • Cut out old cards and use them for gift tags.
  • Save the cards you receive to cut and create new ones next year. Make cute envelopes from magazines.
  • E-greetings are a fun and informal alternative to traditional holiday cards. The following are some examples of what is available on the internet:
Give a Gift of Local Food

Resources on where to buy or pick your own local fruits and veggies

Support Green Businesses that are doing good for our communities and the planet! Find one near you at https://greenbusinessca.org/search and other great local businesses on the Choose Local SMC app on your device:https://colu.com/chooselocalsmc.

Make a Gift

A personal gift does not need to be an item. It could be a gift of time spent with loved ones at a local park or museum.

Assist a friend or family member to help clean out unwanted items and donate them. See www.RecycleStuff.org for social service organizations that will pick up usable items.

Personal Gifts

Everyone loves a homemade gift and they can be fun and easy to make. You can find all kinds of great reasonably-priced used supplies to make holiday decorations and other neat things at Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP). All items at SCRAP were donated and most likely would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.

What to do When New Gifts Replace Current Items

A personal gift does not need to be an item. It could be a gift of time spent with loved ones at a local park or museum.

Assist a friend or family member to help clean out unwanted items and donate them. See www.RecycleStuff.org for social service organizations that will pick up usable items.


Have fun discovering new ways to make your gift look good without needless waste. Gift decorating is a great way to be creative.  Click here to see a local news report on recycling holiday packaging.

2021/2022 Holiday Tree Recycling Guide

Preparation tips:

  • Flocked trees cannot be composted at all facilities.
  • Do not bag your tree. If you do, it will not be recycled.
  • Place trees at the curbside on your regular yard waste or compost service day.
  • Remove stands, lights, tinsel, ornaments and other decorations.
  • Cut them into shorter lengths if they are larger than the lengths specified below in the “How to Prepare” column.
  • Multi-family residents must call Customer Service to arrange a location on site for tree pick up.
Republic Services of Daly City

Serves Daly City, Broadmoor, Unincorporated Colma, and Colma
December 26 - January 28December 26 - January 28, trees must be cut into 6-foot lengths.
Place tree at the curb next to your compost cart.
Flocked trees are accepted, but not recycled.
After January 26, trees must be cut up and placed inside the compost cart. Pieces must fit inside the cart with the lid closed.
Republic Services of Half Moon Bay
December 26 - January 21December 26 - January 21, trees must be cut into 6-foot lengths
Place tree at the curb next to your yard (green) waste cart.
After January 26, trees must be cut up and placed inside the yard (green) waste cart. Pieces must fit inside the cart with the lid closed.
Kunz Valley Trash and Recycling
(Unincorporated San Mateo County)
January 2 - January 7Trees must be cut into 4-foot lengths. Please call or email when you put your trees out.
GreenWaste Recovery, Inc.
(Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley)

Unincorporated Woodside and Unincorporated Portola Valley
December 26 - February 2Unornamented trees, cut no longer than 5-foot lengths.
Town residents - No need to call to schedule a removal at no charge.
Unincorporated residents - Must call customer service to schedule tree to be removed for a small one-time fee.
Trees must be curbside or on main road (no on-property collection).
Accepts flocked trees and wooden stands only.
Recology of the Coast

El Granada, Pillar Pt, Miramar, Princeton, Montara, Moss Beach, and Unincorporated Half Moon Bay
December 2 - January 31

4 feet or less.
After January 31, cut up your tree and place into your green compost cart. Make sure the lid closes.
Recology San Bruno
December 26 - January 31

4 feet or less.
After January 31, cut your tree into pieces and place inside your green compost cart. Please be sure the lid closes completely.
Does NOT accept flocked trees for composting. Must call 24 hours prior to your service day for pick-up.
Recology San Mateo County

Serves Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, the West Bay Sanitary District, Ladera and Unincorporated County Areas within the Rethink Waste Service Area (Baywood Park, Burlingame Hills, Devonshire Canyon, Emerald Lake Hills, Harbor Industrial, Kensington Square, North Fair Oaks, Oak Knoll, Peninsula Golf Club, Palomar Park, San Mateo Highlands, Sequoia Tract and Trailer Ranchero).
January 2 - January 31

Recology San Mateo County collects holiday trees curbside for composting between January 2rd and January 31st, on your regular collection day. Please remove all decorations and tree stands (flocked trees are accepted) before placing next to your green compost cart. Trees may be up to 8 feet in length. If your tree is longer than 8 feet, please cut the tree before placing the pieces next to or in your compost cart. After January 31st, please cut the tree to fit inside the compost cart.
South San Francisco Scavenger Company Inc.

Serves Brisbane, Millbrae and South San Francisco.
Any time.

SSF Scavenger collects holiday trees from single-family homes for no charge. Please remove stand and all decorations. Cut tree in half if taller than 6 feet. Do not bag or tie tree. Place tree at the curb by 5am on your regular collection day. After January, please cut up tree and place in your green cart or contact us for special collection. Note that flocked trees cannot be placed in your green but can be collected at the curb.

Residents of multifamily residential complexes should have the property owner or manager contact SSF Scavenger to schedule a tree collection day for the entire complex.
Recycling Tree Drop-Off Locations

If you do not have curbside service available, the following locations will accept your tree for a fee. Flocked trees will be charged as garbage. Remove stands, lights, tinsel, ornaments and other decorations.



Blue Line Transfer, Inc.

Monday - Friday
6:30 am -4:30 pm;
8:00 am-4:30 pm
500 East Jamie Court,
South San Francisco
Ox Mountain Landfill

Monday - Saturday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
12310 San Mateo Road,
Half Moon Bay
Pescadero Transfer Station

10:00 am - 5:30 pm
9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Bean Hollow Road and Artichoke Road,
Shoreway Environmental Center

6:00 am - 6:00 pm;
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
333 Shoreway Road,
San Carlos
Holiday Lights Recycling

Shoreway Environmental Center (at the electronics recycling location)
LED light bulbs are fine, but if you have incandescent light bulbs, the bulbs should be removed.
333 Shoreway Road, San Carlos, 94070

GreenCitizen, Inc.
Charges will apply.
1576 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA, 94010
1-877-918-8900 x 103; 650-493-8700 x 103

Christmas Light Source Recycling Program
10% discount given on new lights when recycling old lights.

  1. Take your old, broken Christmas lights and box them up in as small a box that will accommodate the lights. Send them in the cheapest and slowest way to:

    Christmas Light Source
    Recycling Program
    4313 Elmwood Drive
    Benbrook, TX 76116

  2. Please include your name, address and email address (mandatory if you want the discount code – the company won’t save it or sell it). The company will email you a code that will be good for 10% off a single order of Christmas lights (one rebate coupon per household).

Holiday LEDs Recycling Program 
Recycles both regular and LED strands for no charge and offers 15% discount on orders of new lights. Send them in the cheapest and slowest way to:

Holiday LEDS Recycling
2300 S. 170th Street
New Berlin, WI 53151

Planning a No-Waste Party

It only takes a little planning and creativity to plan a no-waste party.

  • Purchase your party supplies in bulk and buy only what you need. Buying the largest size you can use saves packaging.
  • Use reusable dishes, utensils, cloth napkins and tablecloths. If you don’t have enough, borrow or rent them.
  • If you need paper products, buy the products with recycled paper content.
  • Turn the heat down before guests arrive. You’ll save energy and your guests’ body heat will warm up the room.
  • Send your guests home with leftovers or bring food you can’t finish to work.
  • Decorate with plants, fabrics and other greeneries instead of plastic streamers, Mylar decorations, etc.
  • Use last year’s holiday cards as place cards.