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How to safely discard Christmas trees in SLO County

Mesa Pines in Arroyo Grande grows native Monterey Pine Christmas trees.
Photo by Amanda Wernik.
Mesa Pines in Arroyo Grande grows native Monterey Pine Christmas trees.

Now that Christmas is over, holiday decorations are coming down in the Central Coast– but before you toss that Christmas tree, here's how to do it safely.

While many households keep their trees up through January, it’s important to be aware of the fire hazards associated with Christmas trees.

According to the National Fire Research Laboratory, fire departments in the US respond to approximately 210 home fires related to Christmas trees each year.

To mitigate these risks, proper disposal is key.

Natural Trees

The San Luis Obispo Integrated Waste Management Authority advises that local garbage services are currently accepting Christmas trees for recycling.

For natural, unflocked trees, residents can use the green waste bin. These trees must to be cut into sections no longer than 4 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter to be accepted.

Once the trees are cut and stripped of all decorations, they are ready for disposal.

Local services accepting natural trees include San Luis Garbage, South County Sanitary, Morro Bay Garbage, and Mission Country Disposal.

Non-Natural Trees

For non-natural trees with flocking or decorations, the garbage bin is the appropriate destination, since they aren’t accepted as green waste.

The trees should be cut up and placed into the garbage cart with lids closed flat.

To learn more about Christmas tree disposal, residents can visit sanluisgarbage.com.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.