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Responsible Post-Holiday Clean-Up

 Posted by on December 26, 2007
Dec 262007

By John DeFore

Even the most conscientious household may not know every resource available to them when it comes to the unusual clean-up challenges presented after Christmas. What to do with that tree, for instance?wreath.JPG

Assuming you didn’t decorate a live tree (in which case you shouldn’t keep it indoors more than a week, and should keep roots intact, before replanting), recycling is the easiest option; if your city sanitation program doesn’t have a convenient program, type “Christmas Tree” into the “Find a Recycling Center” box at Earth 911 for a comprehensive list of options.

That search engine is awfully useful, in fact, going far beyond what your city-sponsored programs will accept for recycling and listing both non-profit and commercial enterprises. It overflows with listings for places to take the seasonal surplus of paper and boxes.

Earth 911 also has some timely features pointing out options even better than recycling: trees can be chipped for mulch, stripped for decorative uses, or submerged to “offer refuge to fish in a private lake or pond, assuming, of course, that the tree has not been treated with chemicals.”

Another source for information on tree recycling is the National Christmas Tree Association, which also offers a locater when you type in your zip code.

It goes without saying that ornaments and lights should be saved for future years, but it’s easy to forget in the hectic take-down phase just how delicate those strands of lights can be: If you don’t take care when removing them from the roof or tree — and then store them where they won’t be jostled or smashed during the next twelve months — those bulbs could be trash next year; the same is true for the wiring itself. It’s never too early to avoid headaches that could make next year’s decorating effort more frustrating, costly, and ecologically harmful.