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Chip in with Christmas tree recycling

December 26, 2018

GREENWICH — The presents have all been unwrapped, and Christmas season is coming to a close. But your Christmas tree can still enjoy a second life.

As part of the recycling program, the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation turns the trees into wood chips that residents can use as mulch or compost. The town also puts the chips to good use as mulch on trails in woodlands, in shrub beds and for soil stabilization.

The tree recycling began Wednesday and continues through Jan. 31.

The program has been successful because residents realize that Christmas trees are a renewable, recyclable resource, said Joseph Sicilano, director of Parks and Recreation.

“The program has a big following,” Siciliano said. “Last year, we chipped 7,500 trees from all of our locations and that looks like about the same amount for the last three years. It’s a good program to promote recycling and reuse the natural material.”

Residents can drop off trees at several locations, including:

*Byram Park: from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot near the concession stand.

*Bruce Park: from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot by the children’s playground, opposite the entrance to the Bruce Museum.

*Greenwich Point: from 6 a.m. until sunset in the first parking lot across from the nature center.

*Holly Hill Recycling Center: during its regular hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the yard waste area.

To be recycled, trees must be stripped of decorations. That means no lights, no ornaments and no tinsel on the trees. All tree stands must be removed, too.

There is no charge for the program. Wood chips will be available to residents at all the collection sites.

The tree recycling program dates back more than 25 years, Sicilano said. Greenwich Point remains the most popular spot for dropping off trees, he said.

Nationwide, about 35 million trees are sold annually, said Bruce Spaman, the town’s former tree warden who works with the town as a consultant.

Many of those trees can be recycled for various purposes, including to help prevent beachfront erosion, stabilize the shore at lakes and rivers, and manage river delta sedimentation, Spaman said. Additionally, Christmas trees can be sunk into lakes for use as fish habitats.

Residents can put their tree to a good use on their own property, even if it is not chipped, the town said.

A Christmas tree can be turned into a songbird and wildlife habitat by placing it near feeding areas used by birds. The tree then offers shelter from the wind and cold as well as protective cover from predators while being close to the bird food. The trees can also be “decorated” for this use by adding peanut butter-filled pine cones, fruit, suet and seed mixes.

To slow or prevent erosion on your property, place the whole tree into gullied areas.

To protect roots and bulbs, cut the boughs off a Christmas tree and place them on your flower beds. The recycling solution is decorative as well.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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