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The Holiday Aftermath

Once the presents have been unwrapped, the food has been eaten, the decorations have been taken down, and life slowly starts returning to normal, the holiday season inevitably leaves us with a lot of … stuff.

Here we have your guide to responsibly shedding all that holiday waste in the most eco-friendly AND affordable way!


Drop-off facilities for your trees

Pile of Christmas trees at South Burlington Drop-Off Center

Bring your tree to one of our four Drop-Off Centers that accepts natural wood–such as Christmas trees– and we’ll turn it into wood chips to be used in making our premium compost products. You can also bring it to the McNeil Wood & Yard Waste Depot in Burlington (by appointment only) to be used as fuel to produce electricity. Remove all ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations, and bring it directly to McNeil or to the CSWD Drop-Off locations listed here:

  • Willistontrailers and dumping mechanisms are allowed at this facility 
  • Essex  – no trailers or dumping mechanisms allowed at this facility
  • Milton – no dumping mechanisms allowed at this facility
  • Richmond  – no trailers or dumping mechanisms are allowed at this facility.
  • No other facilities are taking trees.

Curbside pick-up

Remove all artificial decorations, take it out of the stand, and don’t put it in a bag!

  • Burlington: The Department of Public Works will pick up trees curbside on Monday, January 4th.
  • Essex & Essex Junction: Public Works crews begin picking up trees beginning January 4th through January 8th. Learn more on the Essex Town website.
  • Other: If you subscribe to curbside trash and recycling pickup, your hauler may offer Christmas tree pickup for an extra fee. Find their contact number on our hauler page.

Holiday Packaging

Wrapping paper

Most wrapping paper (including tissue paper) is accepted for recycling at all CSWD Drop-Off Centers except Burlington and by all haulers offering curbside recycling in Chittenden County.

If wrapping paper has any type of foil, Mylar, or plastic coating, it belongs in the trash. You can tell if your wrapping paper is coated with any of these by pinching the edge of the paper and pulling it apart slightly. If you see a plastic or foil layer appear, then it’s trash. Remove ribbons and bows for reuse, and recycle the wrapping paper along with other mixed paper. Tape is OK to leave on.

View this video on Zero Waste Wrapping Paper. Created by Mira Novak of Shelburne Community School.

Ribbons and bows

Ribbons and Bows

These get very little wear & tear, and can often be saved & reused for next year. If you really want to get rid of them, they belong in the trash.


Two boxes of cardboard filled with flattened down cardobard boxes
Photo by Britta Frahm

Flatten it, place it in your blue bin and set it out with the rest of your curbside recycling, or bring it to one of our Drop-Off Center locations except Burlington.

Cardboard must be clean and dry.

Size limits:

  • Some curbside haulers require cardboard to be no larger than 2′ x 2′ (Please call your hauler for specifications)
  • Up to 4′ on any one side at CSWD Drop-Off Centers

Please cut larger pieces to the dimensions above.

Plastic Packaging

Plastic packaging can go in the recycling bin if it’s rigid. Remove paper inserts from plastic “blister packs” and clamshells—both can be recycled separately. Please do not put any plastic bags or other filmy plastics in your recycling bin! Most grocery stores and some other locations accept them for recycling through a separate program.

A cardboard box filled with packing peanuts.

Styrofoam Packaging

Styrofoam of any kind–including packing peanuts–is not recyclable in Chittenden County. If reuse is not an option for you, Styrofoam products belong in the trash. Visit our Packaging Reuse Options page for a list of local organizations that accept packaging materials for reuse.

Bubble wrap and packing peanuts

A number of local stores (like UPS) will take your bubble wrap & packing peanuts for reuse. Otherwise, all filmy plastic and styrofoam belongs in the trash.


String Lights

If your holiday lights burn out, or you’re replacing them with newer, energy-efficient LEDs, bring them to a CSWD Drop-Off Center in EssexMiltonSouth Burlington or  Williston and drop them in our scrap metal bin for recycling at no charge.

If your string has larger, old-fashioned bulbs, please remove the bulbs before recycling the rest of the string in the scrap metal bin. You can throw the bulbs away with your regular trash.

A string of Christmas lights on a wood floor.
Photo by George Hodan


Please DO NOT put batteries in your recycling bin. Bring batteries of all types to any CSWD Drop-Off Center except Burlington for special recycling at no charge (quantity limits apply to certain battery types). Find even more battery recycling locations at Call2Recycle.org.

Better yet: Consider getting rechargeable batteries to reduce your overall energy footprint. Some rechargeable batteries can be reused hundreds of times before they stop holding a charge.


Thanks to the Vermont E-Cycles program, Vermont residents and businesses may bring old TVs or computer items to any CSWD Drop-Off Center except Burlington for special recycling at no charge.

Visit CSWD’s Electronics Recycling Page to learn more about which electronics are covered under this program.

Old clothes, furniture, toys, etc.

Check out our Reuse Options page for a list of dozens of local organizations that accept unwanted items that are still in good shape. There are local nonprofits that take almost anything, from automotive parts to clothing, books to computers, and toys to dishwashers.

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Alise Certa on Email
Alise Certa
Alise Certa
Marketing Communications Manager