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Where to Recycle Christmas Trees and Lights

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo promotes Christmas light recycling as a way to save landfill space, meaning more space for wildlife. Pictured is their recycling bin, located just inside the main entrance; guests don’t have to purchase a Zoo ticket to drop off string lights. The Zoo will accept Christmas lights through Jan. 9. (Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo)

We hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday with family and friends! Now that you’ve probably made your way through (lots of) leftover holiday foods, you might be wondering what to do with all of the holiday stuff. If you’ve got a live tree or holiday lights that won’t survive a year-long hibernation, here are local recycling programs to consider: 

City of Bellaire

The Christmas tree recycling program will be available to Bellaire residents, Dec. 27, 2021 until Jan. 14, 2022. Trees can be dropped off at the designated collection area located at the southeast corner of Baldwin Avenue and Edith Street. Place your tree in the parking lot near the tree recycling sign. Please remove all ornaments, tinsel, tree stands, and lights before you recycle. Flocked trees will not be recycled. For more information, contact Bellaire Public Works: 713-662-8170.

City of West U

Holiday string lights: In conjunction with the Houston Zoo, the City of West U is accepting holiday string lights for recycling through January 15, 2022. Drop-off locations: City Hall (3800 University Blvd.), Public Works Office (3826 Amherst St.), and the West U Recreation Center (4210 Bellaire Blvd.) For more information, contact Public Works: 713-662-5839 or at [email protected]

Christmas trees: The City of West U will be collecting Christmas trees for recycling, Dec. 28, 2021 through Jan. 15, 2022. Place your tree, free of any objects (bulbs, lights, stands, etc.), curbside on your regular trash day. These trees will be taken to a local composter and recycled as mulch. Due to the volume of trees, your tree may not be picked up the same day.  Trees that are flocked or have ornaments, lights, stands, or any other foreign objects will not be accepted for recycling. These trees will be collected with your normal household trash and disposed of in the landfill. For more information, contact Public Works: 713-662-5839 or at [email protected]

City of Houston  

The City of Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) has opened 24 residential Christmas tree drop-off recycling locations throughout the City of Houston. Find a list of locations here.  

Prior to recycling a live Christmas tree, remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands, and other non-organic decorative materials that are not part of the original tree. Flocked, artificial, or painted trees will not be recycled. Artificial trees can be disposed of on your scheduled junk waste collection day. Additional opportunities to recycle live Christmas trees are also available through the city’s yard waste curbside collection program on scheduled residential tree waste service days. All trees collected for recycling will be re-purposed into rich mulch. 

The 31st Annual Christmas Tree Mulching event will take place Thurs., Jan. 6, 2022 at the City Hall Reflection Pool, 10:30 a.m. 

Houston Zoo

Recycle your old holiday string lights at the Houston Zoo to help save animals – recycling helps keep unwanted items out of landfills. The Houston Zoo has placed a holiday lights recycling bin at the main entrance gate of the Zoo. Only string lights will be accepted. The collection bin is located just inside of the main entrance and is open until Jan. 9, 2022. Throughout the year, the Houston Zoo also recycles a variety of handheld electronics. Find more information here.

Editor’s note: Is “going green” on your list of 2022 New Year’s resolutions? Find ideas for eco-friendly resolutions here.

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