Stripped of lights, ornaments and garlands, that 6-foot tree that was so festive at Christmas now looks sad and out of place in the living room. It's dried to a crisp and shedding sharp needles like fall leaves.
What to do with it?
Recycle it. That's the advice from Gail Everett, Richland's environmental education coordinator.
Put it out in the backyard to serve as habitat for the birds, chip it into mulch or take advantage of one of several recycling options in the Mid-Columbia.
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Before loading up your tree, check it for any decorations you might have missed. Remove even the tinsel.
If you had a flocked tree this year, that's OK.
According to Everett, the flocking used today is 99 percent cellulose (paper), virtually harmless to the environment and acceptable in many places for recycling. However, a few sites might charge a small fee for a flocked tree.
Chipping is the best option, but not all solid waste management companies recycle trees. They will accept them for disposal, sometimes for a fee.
However, if you live in Walla Walla or College Place, the Boy Scouts provide an easy, environmentally friendly option for Christmas tree disposal.
Years ago, Boy Scout Troop No. 305 made an agreement with the Corps of Engineers that the Scouts would pick up the trees and deliver them to certain locations to be used as bird and wildlife habitat.
Other troops have joined the recycling effort, and now there are about 60 Scouts and 20 adults involved, said David Rudie, district executive for the Boy Scouts of America in the Walla Walla area.
"The Scouts have divided the two cities into routes and last year picked up over 6,000 trees," he said. "The trucks, trailers and gas are all donated by Walla Walla area businesses."
To get on the tree pick-up list send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Rudie at 509-525-7578 and leave your name, address and phone number.
Tree pickup is scheduled for Jan. 8 and 9. If necessary, arrangements can be made to pick up your tree earlier.
There is no charge to have the Scouts remove your tree, but donations are appreciated.
"All money collected from the tree pick-up is used to send about 30 Scouts to summer camp. Scouts who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend," Rudie said.
In the Tri-Cities, here's what to do with your Christmas tree:
w Richland residents can take trees to the parking lots of the Richland pool, 1005 Swift Blvd.; to Badger Mountain Park, 350 Keene Road; or to the Horn Rapids Landfill, 3102 Twin Bridges Road and Highway 240. Trees will be accepted for free, today through Jan. 9.
The landfill is open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but will be closed New Year's Day.
Trees will be chipped and the mulch available at the Horns Rapids Landfill beginning in late January. Before going to the landfill, call 942-7700 to check on the supply of mulch. Take your own containers.
w Basin Disposal and Ed's Disposal customers can place their trees two feet to the side of their trash container on their regularly scheduled garbage day.
There's no charge for tree pick-up within the city limits. There will be a fee for county residents or for trees taken to the transfer station at 1721 Dietrich Road, Pasco. Fees are based on the size of the tree and start at $15.
Transfer station hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday
For more information, call Basin Disposal/Ed's Disposal, 547-2476, or Franklin County Solid Waste, 545-3551.
w Kennewick and Benton County residents can take their Christmas trees to the Waste Management transfer station at the corner of Ely Street and 27th Avenue, where they will be accepted for free through January.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
The trees will be taken to the Richland landfill, where they will be ground up and given away as mulch.
For more information or to be sure the transfer station is open, call 586-7555.
To simply discard the tree, you can put it into the trash. But inside the city, all waste must fit inside the can, which might involve sawing it into pieces.
For information on scheduling a bulky item pickup, for a fee, call the Waste Management customer service line at 582-5121.
w Sanitary Disposal customers in Hermiston can put trees out on regular collection days. There will be a fee for pick-up, cost depends on which area you live in.
Trees also can be dropped off at the transfer station, 81144 Highway 395. There is a fee for disposal; the amount depends on the size of the tree, minimum is $5.
For more information, call Sanitary Disposal at 541-567-8842.
w Walla Walla residents not recycling their tree through the Boy Scouts program can put their tree into their trash container.
It must fit inside the container. Or take it to the Sudbury Landfill Compost Facility. There is a minimum fee of $12.54.
The compost facility is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; closed on holidays. It's on Highway 12 outside the city limits, east of Walla Walla.
For more information, call the city of Walla Walla sanitation division, 527-4479.