Reduce your post-holiday waste |

Reduce your post-holiday waste

Find something to do with all that wrapping paper — and recycle your Christmas tree

The holiday season is one where many celebrate abundance, and often that abundance can come with waste. Here’s how you can recycle and properly dispose of said waste in Eagle County.

Americans throw away about 25% more trash than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to a report by Stanford University.

“From a sustainability perspective, it can be unsettling to think about the impending mountain of waste at the other end of the season,” Sustainability Programs Manager Nina Waysdorf wrote in a blog post for Walking Mountains Science Center.

First up, Christmas trees. Those residents who opted for a natural tree this season have options for giving that beauty a proper send-off back to the land from which it came.

The town of Vail and the town of Avon are offering free curbside Christmas tree recycling this week through Friday, Jan. 31, according to Walking Mountains Science Center. Only natural trees are accepted — no artificial trees, wreaths or other seasonal debris.

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Trees must be stripped of their splendor — such as ornaments, tinsel, lights and plastic wrapping — before being placed on the side of the road, without blocking the roadway.

Vail town staff ask that trees be left whole, and that residents contact the public works department at 970-479-2158 if trees are not collected within a few days.

Avon residents can also schedule their tree to be picked up by calling the public works director at 970-748-4118.

Trees disposed of in this way will be “chipped and turned into mulch for the town’s summer landscaping program,” according a recent news release from the town of Vail. Avon will do the same.

The town of Minturn will offer curbside pickup until noon Jan. 3 through Jan. 7. Trees can also be dropped off at Little Beach Park on Jan. 7, when the town will hold the annual Minturn Christmas Tree Bonfire.

Eagle also makes a quirky celebration of its Christmas tree disposal with the Eagle 12th Night Christmas Tree Bonfire — held every year since 1953 with the exception of last year, which was canceled due to COVID-19. This year’s bonfire is still set for Jan. 6. Residents are encouraged to drop off their live trees in the southwest corner of Eagle Town Park anytime leading up to the event.

The glow from the 12th Night Christmas Tree Bonfire lights up Eagle. The community has celebrated 12th Night since 1953.
Ron Wheeler/Courtesy photo

The Gypsum Christmas Tree Drop will be available at the west end of the Gypsum Sports Complex parking lot — 3295 Cooley Mesa Road — through Jan. 10.

Additional drop-off sites are offered at the Edwards rest area and the EagleVail driving range parking lot through mid-February, and the Eagle County Landfill in Wolcott is open year-round.

Ethos Landscaping will be providing access to a drop-off site for live Christmas trees and old Christmas lights at the Wildflower Farm in Edwards from Dec. 26 to Jan. 7. The site will be available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Finally, residents can drop off their trees at the Vail Honeywagon Compost Facility for a small disposal fee. The facility is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m Monday through Thursday. Visit for more details.

Each year, an estimated 25 million to 30 million live Christmas trees are purchased in the United States, with millions ending up in landfills nationwide, according to Walking Mountains.

Live trees that end up in Eagle County’s landfill in Wolcott will slowly decompose without access to oxygen, emitting methane — a harmful greenhouse gas — as a result.

Other holiday waste

Beyond Christmas trees, the town of Vail advised that wrapping paper can be recycled at recycling centers or in curbside recycling, as long as it does not have any glitter or metallic coloring.

Tissue paper can be composted for residents participating in local composting programs such as those offered by Vail Honeywagon Organics. Tissue paper can also be reused, but cannot be recycled.

Waysdorf encouraged residents to think sustainably about items that can be reused for future holidays, or to consider wrapping gifts in reusable wrapping like tote bags. Single-use holiday wrapping can have a big impact.

“If every family reused just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet,” according to the Stanford University report.

When it comes to food waste, Waysdorf recommended saving things like vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses to make stocks and broths.

“Some foods like soups, cookies, and breads can be frozen and enjoyed later,” Waysdorf wrote. “If you’ve gotten sick of your leftovers, try repurposing before tossing. The internet is full of great recipe ideas to spark inspiration for holiday leftover transformations.”

If you are unsure of how to properly dispose of other kinds of holiday waste, Walking Mountains Science Center offers a search engine for waste diversion help called the Eagle County Waste Wizard.

The Waste Wizard can be accessed through an app on your phone or by visiting

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