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Christmas Cheer To Compost: New Life For Worn-Out Holiday Trees

Courtesy/City of Provo

Now that the holidays are over, many Utahns will be trying to figure out what to do with their Christmas trees.

Communities throughout northern Utah are offering to take them away. 

“We either ask that they get cut into a small enough size that they fit into your compost container, or you can place them curbside," says Lance Allen, who leads waste and recycling efforts for Salt Lake City. "And, from the middle to the latter part of January, we will be collecting those and chipping them and taking them to the compost facility.”

In other parts of Salt Lake County, curbside pickups will begin right after New Year’s Day. It’s best to check the exact timing with local waste agencies. But, no matter where you live, the trees will only be picked up if you’ve removed all the decorations. 

“The key is," Allen begins, "we’ve got to make sure you don’t put any tinsel or they’re not flocked or any other ornaments on the trees when you put them in the containers or place them curbside.”

The trees are ground up and added to fall leaves and other brown waste to make compost. And the Christmas conifers make the mix more acidic and healthier, with disease fighting properties.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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