The program started the day after Christmas and will go through Jan. 17. The nonprofit Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) will be collecting trees for a $3 donation to be recycled into mulch for various needs in the community. Trees can be dropped off at three locations: Shadow Mountain Sports complex located at 3300 Sparks Blvd. in Sparks, Bartley Ranch Regional Park located at 6000 Bartley Ranch Road and Rancho San Rafael Regional Park located at 1595 N. Sierra St. in Reno.
KTMB Executive Director Christi Cakiroglu said 2010 marks the 20th year for the tree recycling program, which she believes has been successful because of its easy access for people in the community.
“The simplicity of this program for the users, people are able to drive through and just drop off their trees,” Cakiroglu said. “All of the trees are chipped on site and all of the local parks use the mulch as needed. For instance, Washoe County will use some of that mulch from Rancho San Rafael at Silver Sage Golf Course.
“The mulch is also available free for people at the end of the program,” Cakiroglu added. “They need to load it themselves. And it is only available for a limited time for free.”
Cakiroglu said Christmas tree mulch has multiple uses.
“Christmas tree mulch is really acidic, so it isn’t as good for flower beds and stuff like that but it is really good for weed abatement and erosion abatement,” Cakiroglu said. “It might not look pretty but it smells good.”
In addition to weed and erosion abatement, the mulch also can be used to deter insects from certain areas and marking walkways.
The mulch is recreated when unflocked trees that have been dropped off — with the ornaments, tinsel, hooks, wires and stands removed — are run through a wood chipper and broken into small pieces. Only unflocked trees can be recycled.
“Flocked trees are the trees with the white plastic stuff sprayed on it,” Cakiroglu said. “Once the flocking is sprayed on a tree, it really isn’t useful anymore. Wreaths cannot be thrown into the chipper either.”
At each drop-off site, volunteers will help people with the trees and will be accepting the requested $3 donation.
“That just helps us recover the cost of the program,” Cakiroglu said. “We request a donation, but we don’t want it to be a deal breaker for people. We would rather take the tree.”
KTMB relies on the help of about 200 volunteers to collect between 10,000 and 12,000 trees in the next three weeks.
On Monday, Sparks resident Kristin Haslip and her daughter Logan Haslip were volunteering at the drop-off location at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex. Logan, a 15-year-old Reed High School student, said it was her first time to volunteer with KTMB but she was looking forward to future opportunities to help the community, including volunteering at the Nevada Humane Society in the spring.
“We have to do it for our world cultures class at Reed,” Logan said. “But I wanted to do it because it felt good to help the community.”
Logan encourages others to volunteer.
“Volunteering is good karma,” Logan said.
Both Logan and Kristin said recycling Christmas trees is as equally important as volunteering.
“It helps get rid of their trees, which can be a hassle and it helps keep the area beautiful, so people don’t just throw their tree on the side of the road,” Logan said.
“For $3, come and throw your tree in here,” Kristin said pointing to the area blocked off for the recycling effort at the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex.
“I walk my dogs out in the hills and I see people dump their trash out there,” Kristin added, explaining that keeping the surrounding open-space areas clean is good for the community.
Cakiroglu said it is KTMB’s goal to keep the community clean and although people think Christmas trees might be natural and can be disposed of in the northern Nevada hills that it really isn’t a safe option. The trees can be an environmental and fire hazard.
“Recycling a Christmas tree is just a really good option,” Cakiroglu said. “Instead of the tree going to the landfill, waiting 20 years for it to biodegrade, or even burning it, which people used to do after Christmas and it really affects the air quality in the region, it allows us to put the trees back to good use.”
In addition to the Christmas tree recycling program, KTMB is encouraging the community to recycle their old phone books through Friday. Phone books dropped off at specific locations in Sparks, Reno and Washoe County result in trees to be planted in that municipality. Phone books also can be dropped off at Scolari’s and Sack ‘n Save locations, Waste Management and AT&T offices or in curbside recycle bins.
Recycling bin locations to benefit Sparks include:
• The Sparks Marina
• Bonaventure Senior Living
• Sparks City Hall
• Sparks Parks and Recreation Department
• Alf Sorensen Community Center
Recycling bin locations to benefit Reno include:
• Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center
• Neil Road Recreation Center
• Northwest Pool
• Reno City Hall
• Washoe County Senior Center
Recycling bin locations to benefit Washoe County include:
• Bartley Ranch Regional Park
• Lazy 5 Regional Park
• South Valley’s Library
• Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
• Sun Valley Community Park
• Reno Tennis Courts/Washoe Administration Office
• North Valleys Regional Park
For more information and to volunteer, visit www.ktmb.org or call 851-5185.