Recycling tips for post holiday trees

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 28, 2009

The presents are opened, the stockings are empty, and the liveChristmas tree is starting to look a little past its prime.

Just because the holiday season has passed, it doesn’t mean thatnatural Christmas trees have outlived their time. There are optionsfor old Christmas trees that some people might not have knownabout.

Hollytree Farms owner Joan Hartzog said her family turns theirnatural Christmas trees into a fish habitat, an option that manyofficials say is good for the environment.

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“We usually put it in the pond,” she said. “It gives the fish alittle shelter. They like to muddy up the water and lay their eggsin those little spots that are kind of protected.”

In addition, Lynn Johnson of Lawrence County said she puts hersin the back yard as a bird refuge.

“I put popcorn or fruit on the branches and the birds can sit inthe old tree while they eat it,” she said. “Sometimes they take thetinsel and put it in their nests, which is pretty.”

She said in the summer months, the tree becomes brittle enoughto break it apart by hand for pickup.

James Rushing, of Lincoln County, said his Christmas tree goesout in the yard at the end of the season too.

“We just burn it,” he said. “Put it in the yard and light itup.”

In Brookhaven, Sanitation Department Director Willie Smith saidhis men will pick up the trees, but that it certainly does help tohave all the lights, ornaments and tinsel off.

“It throws us a little behind if it has all the stuff on there,it has to be taken off,” he said.

He said there is no way to predict how many trees city residentswill dispose of per year.

“Oh man, it varies, sometimes we have quite a bit and sometimeswe don’t have that many,” he said.

Hartzog said many people will haul their trees to places likeHattiesburg and Jackson to have them ground up for mulch. But Smithsaid eventually trees left on the curb in the city make their wayto be mulched locally.

Jeff Phillips, of Phillips Bark, said Christmas trees brought totheir facility by the city go in a pile, and that every two orthree months the company brings a grinder out to turn them tomulch.

Meanwhile, Phillips said, he has a compost pile in his own backyard where his tree goes. He advised city residents to let the citytake care of their old trees.

“They’ll take them off the street,” he said. “Just let the cityget them.”