Ask Eartha: How to recycle or donate your unwanted holiday items |

Ask Eartha: How to recycle or donate your unwanted holiday items

Allie Flynn
Ask Eartha
A sign points to a Christmas tree recycling location in Frisco on Jan. 3, 2020. The trees will be fuel for the Spontaneous Combustion Bonfire event in February.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Dear Eartha, every year around the holidays, I consider getting rid of my old lights that don’t work anymore. Do I have any options in Summit County? What about the dying tree dropping needles all over my floor?

The holidays have come and gone, and you might be wondering what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the past few weeks: Christmas trees, string lights, old televisions that have since been replaced — you name it.

The holidays are an incredibly wasteful time, and the Summit County Resource Allocation Park sees a spike in holiday waste dumped each year. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holidays than at any other time of year. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to keep some of these common items out of the landfill.


In an earlier column, we debated real versus artificial Christmas trees, ultimately determining that real trees typically have an environmental advantage over fake trees. Regardless of what kind of tree you have, it’s important to make sure you dispose of it properly. If you do have an artificial tree you’re ready to retire, consider hanging onto it until next season, when they are in high demand. Most thrift stores or churches won’t take artificial trees after the holidays. If you cannot hang onto it, into the landfill it goes.

If you opted for a real tree, you have options in each town, likely right around the corner from where you live. By going this route, you’ll feel better knowing that the tree you showed so much love over the holidays is either made into High Country compost or burned as an offering to the snow gods.

Here’s the list of drop-off sites:

  • Breckenridge: Stilson Lot, 579 Wellington Road. Trees accepted through Jan. 31 to be made into compost.
  • Dillon: Town Hall Lot, 275 Lake Dillon Dr. Trees accepted until Jan. 31 to be made into compost.
  • Frisco: Frisco Bay Marina dirt lot, 267 Marina Road. Trees accepted until noon Feb. 12 to be burned at the Spontaneous Combustion Bonfire.
  • Silverthorne: Trent Park overflow lot, 100 Willowbrook Road. Trees accepted until Jan. 31 to be burned at the First Friday Burning Snowman event in April.
  • Summit County: Summit County Resource Allocation Park, 639 Landfill Road. Trees accepted from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to noon weekends through Jan. 31 to be made into compost.

Be sure to remove all ornaments, ribbons, lighting and bases trees.


I’m sure we’ve all experienced it: Setting up your tree or house decorations exactly how you want them, and then plugging the lights in only to find out that a kinked wire or missing bulb has caused the entire string to go dark.

If you can’t replace the bulb or fix the string, you can ensure your old lights are being disposed of properly by dropping them off at the Resource Allocation Park, which accepts string lights and all manner of electronic waste, such as computers, TVs, cellphones, etc. It’s free to drop off with a local ID.

Old toys, furniture, clothes, etc.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t like hanging onto things you don’t need. Instead of trashing your old stuff, consider donating to one of the local thrift stores. Most of the places you can donate to in Summit County use the money they make on these items to support local nonprofit organizations.

Make sure you check with these stores for donation hours and to ensure they will accept whatever you’re dropping off.

  • Habitat for Humanity, 1291 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne. Accepts furniture, home decorations and most household items. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.
  • Resaddled Thrift Shop, 252 Warren Avenue, Silverthorne. Accepts gently used clothing, small household items, DVDs and outdoor gear. Proceeds benefit Blue River Horse Center.
  • For Pet’s Sake Thrift Shop, 203 N. Main Street, Breckenridge. Accepts gently used clothing, housewares, linens, books, art and more. Proceeds benefit Animals Rescue of the Rockies.

While Christmas is over and the new year underway, the next holiday is just around the corner. From Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day to the summer solstice and July 4, there’s always a reason to get festive. No matter which holidays you observe, here’s my challenge: Consider ditching the cheap, plastic stuff for quality products made to last.

Allie Flynn

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