Recycle your Christmas tree, and the stuff on it

Environmentally Conscious Recycling on Portland's east side will take trees, even if they're flocked, for $2. (KATU Photo)

For many, New Year's weekend is a time for parties and celebrating, but for a lot of families it means time to take down the Christmas tree.

There are a lot of options for getting rid of it, and not just for the real trees, but the artificial ones too, and the decorations, and wrapping from presents, and all those containers from the nuts and cookies you gobbled up.

Portland Metro gets calls year-round of course, but lately a lot have been, "What can I do with my tree?" type of questions.

The experts at Metro say the answer is pretty simple, but lengthy.

"It depends on where you live, who your hauler is, whether you want it picked up or take it somewhere, how much you're willing to spend, what you have, all that. You just have to do a little research and planning," says recycling specialist Karina Agbisit.

A little cutting will do the trick if you're expecting your regular service to pick it up.

"If you have a yard debris bin and home, as long as it fits completely into the bin and the lid can close, it will be picked up at no additional charge. If you need to put it on the curb outside the bin, you need to call your local hauler to see what that might cost," says Agbisit.

And for that other not-so-evergreen tree -- the fake one -- a little creativity will come in handy.

Think of other uses for a broken stand or bent branches before tossing them in the trash.

Bows and ribbons and wrapping paper can be donated to nonprofit art and craft programs.

Metro has more information on that on its website.

Even broken strings of Christmas lights can be worth something more than garbage -- the copper wire inside can get you some cash.

"The metal, specifically, is what is getting salvaged out of that. If you can think of a way to re-use it that’s always good, but the metal recycling is good, keeping it out of the landfill and giving it another life as something else," Agbisit says.

She says packing peanuts from gifts delivered in the mail can be turned back over to delivery services. Some take them, some don't.

Pillow strips can be popped, and if they stretch at all, they're good candidates to take to the plastic shopping bag container at your local grocery store.

Otherwise, throw them in the garbage, not recycling.

The same goes for those clear clam-shell containers.

Metro doesn't have a way to recycle those yet.

But back to the trees.

If you want to recycle, many centers will take your trees at special holiday rates, but times and charges can vary so call ahead.

Most places won't take trees with anything artificial still on them.

At least one facility, Environmentally Conscious Recycling on Portland's east side, says it will take trees, even if they're flocked, for just two dollars.

The cost for dropping a tree off, or having it picked up depends on who helps you out.

Many nonprofit organizations, like your local Boy Scout Troop, will be ready to get trees this weekend.

Other groups, like the Grant High School softball team, will have a drop-off site at Beverly Cleary School in Northeast Portland Jan. 6 and Jan. 7.

Don't wait too long, though. Many recycling centers have holiday rates for trees.

If you wait until spring to get around to it, you'll likely be paying regular prices, even if what you're bringing in was a Christmas tree.

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