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Consumers have options for recycling holiday tree
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A Christmas tree adds joy and life to a home during the holidays, but thoughts of tree cleanup and disposal can dampen enthusiasm for a real one.
Consumers who do a little investigative work into recycling options can avoid these problems. Although Mississippi does not have a statewide recycling program for leftover trees, some communities do.
“The best thing to do is read the local newspaper or contact the county office of the Mississippi State University Extension Service for more information,” said Steve Dicke, Extension forestry specialist. “Groups that conduct tree recycling after Christmas often place advertising in the paper and on television or radio.”
Because real Christmas trees are biodegradable, their recycling does not create problems for the environment. Some people mulch their trees and use the material around plants in their landscapes.
“There is a Christmas tree recycling program in Jackson that uses the trees for mulch,” said Bill Brake, owner of K and B Christmas Tree Farm in Florence. “People are instructed to take the trees to the fairgrounds, so it is best to ask before you make plans.”
Other people chop the trees into smaller pieces for composting. A few remove the needles and make fragrant sachets.
Some Christmas tree growers sell trees in pots and burlap balls. These production methods give consumers an option to enjoy the tree during the holidays and later use it in landscapes.
Many communities and government agencies use leftover trees in public works projects to stabilize soil, create fish habitat or provide sanctuary for marine life in lakes and streams. Some even shred the trees for use as natural path material for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
“We have worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in donating some of our scraggly, Charlie Brown trees to build up Okatibbee Lake,” said Michael May, owner of Lazy Acres Plantation in Chunky.
Old trees also make good feeders and shelters for birds. Clean trees of all garland, tinsel, decorations and hooks before putting them in the backyard.