Now that all the fun's over, the packages unwrapped and the relatives sent their way, it's time to get things back to order. And that means taking off the tree lights, taking down the tinsel, and recycling or otherwise disposing of it.
But where? It's not the sort of thing you can put out on the sidewalk with a "Free" sign on it. Nor should you chop it up in put it in the garden for compost, since evergreen trees are highly acidic and can burn your plants.
You have two basic choices: Let the waste management trucks pick it up on their regular routes over the next couple weeks, or call the local Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (varies with community) and, with a donation, they'll take it away on a Saturday or Sunday between December 29 and January 13. Let's take them in order.
The Sonoma County Waste Management agency has a webpage with information on disposal and recycling of Christmas trees. They say that trees can be recycled, and offered for sale as Christmas tree compost by Sonoma Compost.
Their instructions for pick-up: "Put your tree in your yard waste container and place at the curb on your regular yard waste collection day. The tree MUST be CUT TO FIT inside the container (4 foot or less sections, please). Trees sticking out of the container can interfere with the lifting arm on the truck. Thank you for your help."
If your tree is too big or awkward to cut into four-foot sections, or if you don’t want to bother, you can leave the full tree, without stand of course, out beside your yard waste container on collection days between Dec. 31 and January 11, 2013, in Healdsburg.
Other local towns with this service include Cloverdale (Jan. 7, 2013 – Jan. 11), Rohnert Park (Jan. 7 – Jan.18), Santa Rosa (Jan. 7– Jan. 18) and Windsor (Dec. 31– Jan. 4). See this page for further details.
Another option is to leave it out for the Girl Scouts on one of their seasonal collection days. This year the Pick Up & Recycling dates start this week, on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29 & 30. The request a $7 donation for the service, $10 if the tree is over 6 feet tall.
To let the Girl Scouts of Northern California, Troop 389 know there's a tree for them, just call 708-322-3053 or e-mail Teresa Ramirez for a pick up. Leave your name, phone number, street address and the date you want the tree picked up
On the day you requested, leave tree at the curb on the day of pick up by 9:00 a.m. Sorry, no flocked trees or tinsel.
Make checks payable to GSNC. If you won't be home, please leave the donation under your front door mat.
Other collection dates run into next year - Jan. 5 & 6, and again on Jan. 12 and 13. If you haven't taken down your tree by that time, maybe you should leave it up for Valentine's Day.
Residents of Rohnert Park, Cotati and other Sonoma County addresses can drop the trees off at the the Rohnert Park Corporation Yard (600 Enterprise Dr.) or in Cotati Daily at 1 Cotati Ave. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., December 26 to January 15.
You can find other "treecycling" or recycling suggestions and programs at 911earth.com.