Greenburgh's Christmas Trees Stay Green After Holidays

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The Greenburgh Department of Public Works takes your old Christmas trees to be processed into mulch for fertilizer, which is then re-added to lawns and gardens throughout the state. Photo Credit: Flickr user Wisemandarine

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — It turns out Greenburgh's Christmas trees still have plenty of use even after the holiday season.

Ever wonder what happens to your Christmas tree after you get rid of all its lights, garlands and ornaments? Once you take it outside to be collected by the Greenburgh Department of Public Works, the tree is taken to an organic-waste transfer site on Taxter Road in East Irvington.

"The trees are handled like all other green waste and are turned back into compost," said Public Works Commissioner Victor Carosi.

DPW crews will collect Christmas trees for the entire month of January, Carosi added. He wasn't able to estimate how many trees the crews recycle, but a 2011 Transfer Station Report shows that about 700 tons of mixed yard waste was collected in Greenburgh during January 2011.

Composting organic materials like trees and other yard waste not only provide a valuable nutrient to soils, it also reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

From Greenburgh's organic-waste transfer station, the trees and other mixed yard waste are transported to a compost facility and then processed and used primarily as an organic soil conditioner and fertilizer, according to the state DEC.

Christmas trees aren't the only holiday decor that is put to a green use. Take your old Christmas lights — even if they don't work — to recycling programs like Home Depot's, which lets you trade in your old incandescent string sets for new, more efficient LED Christmas lights at a discount. 

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And readers might sk the reporter how much Greenburgh was fined for its own part in environmental mismanagement here. "Green" is not only found in the name of the town or the color of Christmas trees but is also the color of the millions of dollars that taxpayers had to pay to rectify the damage to the environment created while cluelessly operating this site.

Instead of reporting just the sugar, it might be of equal interest to Greenburgh readers were they provided with a little of the salt and pepper found on the condiment tray.

Hal Samis