While we love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree in our home, those endless piles of pine needles on the floor are enough to make us go bonkers. Before you toss your old tree and lights out on the curb, try the eco-friendly option of treecycling, which turns your holiday tree into everything from garden mulch to wood chips. The best part? Recycling your tree (and lights) isn’t as difficult as you might think. Check out these convenient options.

tree branch

Christmas Tree Curbside Residential Pickup
If you currently have curbside yard debris service from your garbage and recycling company, you can place your tree at your curb on pick-up day after following these simple steps:

1. Prep your tree by removing all decorations and adornments (ornaments, tinsel, lights, wire, nails, etc.) and returning the tree to its original state.

2. Trim your tree to six feet or shorter (branches to less than four feet) to fit into the collection trucks.

3. Bundle each section with sisal string or twine (not plastic). Flocked and plastic trees will not be accepted for curbside recycling.

Recycling & Disposal Stations
At Recycling and Transfer Stations throughout Seattle, up to three clean trees (per vehicle) can be recycled for FREE between Dec. 26, 2015 and January 17, 2016. After that, regular fees apply. Trees should not exceed eight feet in length and must be free of decorations. Trunks should not exceed four inches in diameter. See hours and locations.

Boy Scout Troop 600 Christmas Tree Recycling Drive & Fundraiser
If you live in West Bellevue (west of I-405, north of I-90 & south of SR-520) or in the surrounding neighborhoods of Beaux Arts, Medina, Clyde Hill or Hunts or Yarrow Points, mark your calendars for the annual Boy Scout Troop 600 Christmas Tree Recycling Drive and Fundraiser. Now in its 21st year, scouts will begin canvassing homes in the pick-up area in early December. Once you’ve secured a pick-up tag, put your clean tree on the curb before 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2017 and scouts will collect it. The minimum donation is $15 per tree.

You may also reserve a pick-up tag via email or voice message. Call 425-954-6582 and leave your address and phone number before December 31 or email bsatroop600@gmail.com. Then, attach your donation to your tree in a plastic bag and place it curbside before 8 a.m. on January 7, 2017.

If you don’t live in the area or didn’t secure a pick-up tag, you can still participate in this treecycling program by dropping your tree off at Chinook Middle School (2001 98th Ave. N.E.) between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on January 7, 2017. (Note the new locations this year.) The scouts will accept cash, checks made payable to Boy Scout Troop 600 or credit cards. There’s a $15 minimum donation. Psst! After receiving your tree, the scouts will happily vacuum the needles out of your trunk for free!

For safety reasons, Boy Scout Troop 600 cannot accept flocked or artificial trees, trees wrapped in plastic or with metal attachments, trees with tinsel or nails or wreathes with metal shape wires.


photo: Swansons Nursery

Trees for Salmon at Swansons
This year, you can add a green twist to your family’s holiday tree hunting tradition by participating in Swansons Nursery’s Trees for Salmon program. Purchase a living tree species marked with a “You Can Donate This Tree” tag and help Swansons and the King County Parks Department with their restoration efforts and help bring healthy salmon habitat back to our neighborhood watershed. How does this work? After the holidays, simply return your tree to Swansons Nursery by January 17, 2017. Swansons will then donate it to King County Parks to be planted in one of its restoration sites. You can also purchase a $5 “Sammy the Salmon” button and Swansons will contribute one native plant to the restoration effort. Choose from Noble Fir, Douglas Fir, Canaan Balsam Fir, Cupressina Norway Spruce, Narrow Colorado Blue Spruce or Contorta Eastern White Pine.

Note: The cost of purchasing a living tree depends on the tree’s size, and generally ranges from $50 to $125. Trees vary in size from as small as 18” to 6’ or taller.

Swansons Nursery
9701 15th Ave. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98117
Online: picktheperfecttree.com/living-trees
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)

Holiday Light Recycling

If you have burned-out light strands or you’ve decided to replace your old school lights with new energy-efficient LED ones, there are several places around the city to recycle your holiday lights.

Light Recycling Tips: Remove all packaging, twist-ties and rubber bands from the light strands and place the lights in the bin without bags or extra material. Most of the places listed below will take your lights through the beginning of January. However, we recommend you call ahead and confirm before dropping them off.

Most Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in King County will take your old holiday lights. Use this site to search for a store nearest you.

All seven Puget Sound area McLendon Hardware stores will take your old holiday lights as well as the Maple Leaf Ace Hardware.

Renton McLendon Hardware
440 Rainier Ave. S.
Renton, Wa 98057
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Puyallup McLendon Hardware
11307 Canyon Rd. E.
Puyallup, Wa 98373
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m..

White Center McLendon Hardware
10210 16th Ave. S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98146
206- 762-4090
Hours: Mon.- Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Kent McLendon Hardware
23662 104th Ave. S.E.
Kent, Wa 98031
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Sumner McLendon Hardware
1111 Fryar Ave.
Sumner, Wa 98390
253- 863-2264
Hours: Mon.- Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Woodinville McLendon Hardware
17705 130th N.E.
Woodinville, Wa 98072
Hours: Mon.- Sat., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun.: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Tacoma McLendon Hardware
1015 North Pearl St.
Tacoma, Wa 98406
Hours: Mon-Sat: 7 a.m.-8 p.m; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Maple Leaf Ace Hardware
9000 Roosevelt Way N.E.
Seattle, Wa 98115
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun.: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.


photo: Kate & Jeroen via flickr

Once again, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is teaming up with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington for their annual holiday lights recycling program. All proceeds from the 2016 Holiday Lights Recycling Program will fund walrus conservation. Lights can be dropped off through mid-January.

Girls Scouts of Western WA locations:

Seattle Administrative Office
601 Valley St.
Seattle, Wa 98109

King County Regional Office
13029 N.E. 20th St.
Bellevue, Wa 98005

North Regional Office Location
1331 State Ave.
Marysville, Wa 98270

Peninsula Girl Scout Program Center
1600 NE Winters Rd.
Bremerton, Wa 98311

DuPont Girl Scout Center
1000 Davis Pl.
DuPont, Wa 98327


Here are some other businesses south of Seattle accepting holiday lights for recycling:

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
5400 North Pearl St.
Tacoma, Wa 98407

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
11610 Trek Dr. E.
Eatonville, Wa 98328

Metro Parks Tacoma Headquarters
4702 South 19th St.
Tacoma, Wa 98405

Tacoma Nature Center 
1919 S. Tyler St.
Tacoma, Wa 98405

STAR Center 
3873 S. 66th St.
Tacoma, Wa  98409

Center at Norpoint
4818 Nassau Ave. N.E.
Tacoma, Wa 98422

Portland Avenue Community Center
3513 Portland Ave.
Tacoma, Wa 98404

Peoples Community Center
1602 S. MLK Jr. Way
Tacoma, Wa 98405

The following Recology CleanScapes stores in Bothell, Burien and Issaquah will also accept your old holiday lights for recycling:

Gilman Village
317 N.W. Gilman Blvd, #22
Issaquah, Wa 98027

Five Corners Shopping Center
15858 First Ave. S,. #A100
Burien, Wa 98148

Canyon Park Place
22833 Bothell-Everett Hwy #111
Bothell, WA 98021

old christmas lights

photo: HolidayLEDs website

If you want to recycle your old holidays lights and save money on new LED lights, take advantage of the mail-in Christmas light recycling program. Instead of driving your lights to a drop off location, simply box them up and mail them to HolidayLEDs.com. In return, you’ll receive a coupon good for 15% off HolidayLEDs.com LED Christmas lights. Holiday lights are accepted year-round. Note: Once you have packed up and shipped your lights, complete the Christmas light recycling form and the company will email you your coupon as soon as they confirm shipment.

Holiday LEDs Recycling
13400 Watertown Plank Rd., Suite 34
Elm Grove, Wi 53122
Online: holidayleds.com/christmas-light-recycling-program.aspx

What do you plan to do with your old holiday lights and Christmas tree this year? We’d love to hear from you in the Comments below.

— Kristina Moy

Click here to find out what else is going on in Seattle this holiday season!