Green digest // Christmas tree disposal

Christmas tree disposal

Is your Christmas tree still hanging around in the living room? If so, it’s probably time to take off the lights and ornaments, sweep up those brown pine needles and carry the tree outside. After that, there are several options.

The easiest way to dispose of a live — or formerly live — Christmas tree may be to set it out on the curb next to the garbage bin. Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling offers curbside tree pickup through the end of the month.

There are just a couple of things to keep in mind: One, make sure all the lights, tinsel and ornaments are removed and; two, if it’s over six feet tall, cut it in half. There’s no need to bag it.

Those who’d rather recycle their holiday evergreen might find a use for it in the backyard. On its website, the city suggests using pine boughs as bird habitat or running trees through the chipper for later use as mulch.

A third option is to haul the tree to a nearby yard waste facility. Hennepin County facilities won’t accept Christmas trees, but many metro-area yard waste drop-off sites will.

Hennepin County offers a guide to sites that accept Christmas trees at hennepinatoz.org, the online home of its A–Z How to Get Rid of it Guide. Just type “Christmas tree” into the site’s search box.

The Minneapolis location of the Mulch Store, 630 Malcom Ave., may be the easiest to reach from Southwest. That location accepts trees through Jan. 15 at the cost of $1.50 per tree to city residents.

Other Mulch Store locations accept trees through the third week of January. For more information, go to mulchstoremn.com/christmastrees.html, or call the Malcom Avenue location at 331-4610.

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Greater security for electronics recyclers

Hennepin County drop-off facilities won’t take Christmas trees, but they will accept used electronics, like laptops and cell phones.

One concern when recycling electronic devices is the security of the personal information they contain. Hennepin County now offers recyclers a bit of reassurance: In December it announced new, locked electronics drop-off boxes would be stationed at its drop-off facilities.

Still, it’s best to make sure the memory is wiped-clean from any device before recycling to make sure personal or financial information doesn’t end up in the hands of a thief.

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Schools win grants to reduce waste

Hennepin County aims to reduce waste and increase recycling at several Southwest-area schools through grants it awarded in December.

Carondelet Catholic School, Annunciation School and The Blake School were among nine non-public schools awarded grants through the county’s Waste Abatement Incentive Fund. Many of the grants will be used to fund organics recycling programs, the county reported.

Several Southwest public schools already have organics recycling programs operating in their lunchrooms. Burroughs Community School parents and teachers pioneered a program to separate compost-ready food scraps and paper from non-biodegradable lunchroom waste, a program that this fall expanded to other district schools.

The Waste Abatement Incentive Fund had about $100,000 in available grants for 2009. The grant pool grows to $300,000 annually in 2010.

Applications for 2010 grants are due this spring. For more information on the program, search for “waste abatement” on the county website, hennepin.us.

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From Southwest to Copenhagen and back

WHITTIER — A delegation from Southwest-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) joined representatives of 192 nations and swarms of protesters at the world climate talks in Copenhagen Dec. 7–18.

Several dozen people turned out at IATP’s Whittier office Dec. 21 to hear six members of the delegation share their impressions of the Copenhagen talks, which did not result in a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A series of position papers prepared by IATP staff members before the trip, as well as a reaction to Copenhagen from IATP President Jim Harkness can all be found at iatp.org.

IATP advocates for fair and sustainable food, agriculture and trade policies. In Copenhagen, they aimed to bring more attention to the role of agriculture in addressing global climate change. To learn more about IATP’s work in Copenhagen, visit iatp.org/climate/.