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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

New Life for Old Christmas Trees

Air Date: Week of

Steve reports on the movement by Communities and businesses across the country to steer discarded Christmas trees away from landfills and into mulching machines.


CURWOOD: Let's face it. One of the touchiest holiday issues for eco-purists can be Christmas trees. It's all well and good to buy a live tree, complete with a ball of earth, if you have both the open land and the strong back needed to plant it afterward. But barely 5 percent of folks in the US buy live Christmas trees, and that leaves more than 30 million baby spruces, firs and pines that go straight from the ax into our living rooms, and then out with the trash, often wrapped in a plastic bag.

But wait, says Deborah Gangloff, vice president of American Forests in Washington, don't throw that tree into the trash, instead find out if your community has a chipping service that will turn it into mulch.

GANGLOFF: There are probably hundreds of communities across the country that do have recycling programs. The absolute worst thing you can do with a beautiful organic Christmas tree, even though it's dead, is to put into a plastic bag and send it to a landfill. That does absolutely no good. It takes up landfill space and you've missed out on the opportunity of creating organic mulch from that tree.

CURWOOD: So there it is, from the American Forests group: mulch that tree. Christmas trees make a heavenly scented mulch that is used by municipalities for trees and shrubs on public lands. Some places even give you the mulch back for your own garden. If you want to know if your town has a mulching program, or if you'd like to start one, call your local public works department.



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