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Put that fresh Christmas tree to good use

The Examiner

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

Lynn Youngblood

I’ve paraphrased what Matt Riggs, recycling outreach coordinator with the Mid-America Regional Council (Solid Waste Management District, said on KCUR radio: Trash from Kansas City households dramatically increases from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Presumably, much of this waste is gift wrap. All gift wrap can be recycled,unless it is shiny, or foil.

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

I did a little homework and completed a list of local facilities that accept live Christmas trees. Remember to call before you load up your tree and drive to the center. Many recyclers accept a limited number of Christmas trees annually.

Hope your holidays have been good and that you’re looking forward to GREEN 2020!

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

Tree Collection

Remove all ornaments, lights and tinsel.

• Blue Springs and Grain Valley:

Jan. 1 to Feb. 1, 2715 Park Road, Blue Springs, 816-228-0137

• Independence and Sugar Creek:

Missouri Organic Recycling, 7700  East U.S. 40, Kansas City, 816-483-0908

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The fee is $5.

• Buckner:

City yard waste facility, 2500 O’Donnell Road, Buckner, 816-650-3191.

• Lee's Summit:

City yard waste drop-off center, 2101 S.E. Hamblen Road, Lee's Summit, 816-969-1804.