Santa’s ride across the sky is a recent memory and by now the presents have been unwrapped, paper has been bagged up, and the bows and ribbons saved and packed for next year (right!).

I’ve paraphrased what Matt Riggs, recycling outreach coordinator with the Mid-America Regional Council, recently said on KCUR radio: Trash from Kansas City households dramatically increases from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Presumably, much of this waste is gift wrap.

Your beautiful live Christmas tree has been gracing your living room for several weeks spreading pine-scented fragrance and good cheer. It might be getting a little frazzled at this point, and the needles are starting to drop. It’s time to find the perfect place for recycling.

You can start right in your own backyard. Place your tree beside your birdfeeders to give the birds extra cover for safety. You will be amazed at the number of birds that will gather there, keeping warm and getting a closer seat to your seed banquet. Bird-feeding time is prime time for cats to pick off birds while they are on the feeders or nearby. Your Christmas tree can give them extra protection.

If you have a cat, keep it indoors, not only for the birds’ sake, but it is safer for your cat, too. It seems a little unfair to put out bird seed to entice the birds to come closer and then let your cat roam to feast upon them.

As winter wanes and the tree begins to lose its shape, you can cut off a branch here and there (or all at once) and place them under your small trees and shrubs for mulch.

That is one of the great things about live trees. They complete the circle. After growing on a tree farm providing habitat for wildlife, jobs for the industry and boosting the local economy, they end up at your doorstep for one of the most festive times of year. When a Christmas tree’s job is over, you can recycle it back to nature where the cycle starts all over again.

Many of the recycling centers use Christmas trees for the park system’s chipped trails or landscaping. They may offer the chips back to the local residents, use the trees in ponds for fish habitat, or use them for a host of other applications. Additionally, many garbage waste haulers will not pick up Christmas trees (which would only go in a landfill).

Hope your Holidays have been good and that you’re looking forward to a Green 2020!

Tree drop-off:

Residents of the Blue Springs area can take Christmas trees to Pink Hill Park through Feb. 1. It’s at 2715 Park Road, 816-228-0137. Remember to remove ornaments and tinsel.

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, Missouri. You can reach her at Lynn@TheGreenSpace.net, or follow her on Instagram at TheGreenSpaceKC.