Every January, after the holidays were long over and the Christmas tree was dried to a crisp, my favorite annual tradition at my father’s house was to toss the prickly 7-foot tree out his Hyde Park condo’s third floor window. One of us would stand below to block the sidewalk and two others would heave the tree out as far as possible. A perfect toss was declared if we managed to get the stump to stick into the ground.
After that moment of gravitational brilliance, we’d haul the tree to the alley and await Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department to haul the expired tannenbaum away. It was a sad, pointless landfill ending for our tree.
But no more! Today there are plenty of ways to recycle your Christmas tree. First, if you live in the 44th Ward, teams from Ald. Tom Tunney’s office will collect discarded trees from alley garbage pickup spots on Saturday, January 7. You can also drop your tree off that day at the Blaine School parking lot, 1420 W. Grace St., between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. where the trees will be mulched for your convenience.
Finally, if you want to hang on to that tree through Epiphany, January 8, you can haul it over to Clark Park, 3400 N. Rockwell Ave., or 22 other locations around the city between January 7 and January 20. As an added bonus, anyone can pick up free mulch from any of the 23 locations starting Friday, January 13.
You can find more information at Chicagorecycles.org, including details on where to recycle your old strings of holiday lights.