A Tree-mendous Way to Recycle Your Old Tree!

December 22nd, 2020

Aerial view of christmas trees in a lot with a chipper blowing chips

Aerial view of trees collected from KTMB's 2019 event. Photo courtesy of KTMB.

Have you ever wondered what to do with that old Christmas tree after the holidays? I’ve seen some folks shove their trees into their garbage can, others leave dead trees next to their home and others have dropped them in the desert for other people to deal with. All of these options cause fire hazards and tend to take up a lot of space. I reached out to Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) and spoke with Sophie Butler, the Community Programs Manager, to review the organization’s Christmas Tree Recycling program. Keep reading for the program’s details:

What is your position?

I’m the Community Programs Manager for KTMB. I coordinate and run all of our large annual volunteer efforts throughout the year.

What is Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB)?

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is a local nonprofit dedicated to creating a more sustainable and beautiful region through waste reduction, education and active community involvement. Our work is made up of two main components: Beautification and Cleanups Programs, and our Education Programs. The Beautification and Cleanups team works with volunteers to clean up trash and illegal dumpsites from our public lands and complete projects, like invasive weed removal and native planting, for our local parks. The Education Team presents to local K-12 schools, community groups and businesses about the Waste, Weed, and Watershed issues affecting our region, hopefully reducing the harm done to our local environment in the long run.

Why does KTMB do a Christmas Tree Recycling drop-off?

Each year thousands of local families buy a Christmas tree from a local lot or cut one down in a local forest with a permit, and in the years before Christmas Tree Recycling, there weren’t many good options for disposal once the holidays had come and gone. One option was for the tree to go to the landfill, which is a poor use of that limited space, and for some people, the other option was leaving their tree in the desert, which poses a serious fire hazard once warmer months arrive.

KTMB knew we could provide a better alternative, and that’s why we’ve been running our annual Christmas Tree Recycling program for over 20 years now. We chip the trees we collect into mulch and then use the mulch for weed abatement and park beautification projects. We like to think we’re giving the trees a second life.

When is the Christmas Tree Recycling drop-off?

KTMB’s Christmas Tree Recycling will run from December 26 through January 10 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and the unmanned sites can be used at any time during the two-week period of the program.


Where is the Christmas Tree Recycling drop-off?

The volunteer-run drop-off sites are at Bartley Ranch Regional Park, Shadow Mountain Park, and the Reno Sports Complex. We have three additional unmanned sites at local Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Stations: the Spanish Springs Station (500 Rockwell Blvd), the Lemmon Valley Station (130 Nectar St), and the East Washoe Lake Station (1240 East Lake Blvd).

What does it cost?

There is a requested $3.00 donation for each tree dropped off, which will be generously matched by the NV Energy Foundation.

Due to COVID, are there restrictions? Do volunteers get the tree? Or do residents need to get out of their cars to remove the trees from their vehicles?

If the resident is happy with volunteers retrieving the tree, we ask that they do not leave their car during the process. If the resident wants to get the tree themselves, the volunteers will not be able to help take it off or out of their vehicle. Regardless of the situation though, all volunteers and residents should be wearing a face mask while they’re at the site.

What happens to the Christmas trees after they are dropped off?

We work with our local partners to chip all of the trees into mulch and then it’s used in weed abatement and park beautification projects throughout the year.

While these events are localized for the Truckee Meadows, events like this occur around the state. If you are interested in a tree recycling program where you live, check out the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website or reach out to your local fire agency to see if a program is available in your community. For those living in Pahrump, check out University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s Pahrump Master Gardeners has a Live-Cut Tree Recycling Program.   For more information regarding KTMB’s Christmas Tree Recycling program. 


Jamie Headshot


Jamie Roice-Gomes is the manager of University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s Living With Fire Program.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a Master of Arts in Interactive Environmental Journalism. She was a public relations assistant for Conrad Communications, a public information officer intern at the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, and a Biological Science Technician at the USDA-Agriculture Research Service. She also enjoys volleyball, the Great Basin Desert and spending time with family.

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