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A gift for Mother Nature: recycled Christmas trees

Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Posted by


Katie Klauber and her mother, Diane, helped recycle Christmas trees last year with Troop 10406.

The holiday season may be coming to a close, but Girl Scouts in Sonoma Valley have a final gift-giving suggestion: turn the household Christmas tree into a present for Mother Nature.

Beginning this weekend, troops in the valley will pick up Christmas trees for recycling into nutrient-rich mulch and compost that ultimately help other plants and flowers thrive. The centerpiece of the holiday season can then live on in gardens and landscaping throughout the community.

“In Sonoma Valley, the Girl Scouts have been providing this service for more than a decade,” said Jill Valavanis, a Cadette troop leader and coordinator of the recycling program. “It has become a local tradition that the girls are proud of and the community enjoys supporting.”

Girl Scouts from Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador troops work in conjunction with Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, Sonoma Garbage and Redwood Empire Waste to collect trees in a way that’s environmentally friendly.

In addition to assisting Mother Nature, the recycling program helps Girl Scouts fund community service projects, scouting programs and activities and cultural-understanding trips abroad.

In June, just after earning their high school diplomas, a troop of three teens traveled with two chaperones to England, France, Italy and Switzerland. They met with Girl Scouts from around the globe at the Pax Lodge World Centre in London – a trip made possible through years of recycling Christmas trees and selling Girl Scout cookies.

Valavanis said girls learn valuable skills from the program, from goal setting and time management skills to working with the public and the meaning of physical labor loading and unloading the oftentimes heavy trees.

The tax-deductible suggested donation for the service is $10 per tree.

Girl Scouts can’t accept flocked trees, wreaths or garland. To ensure that trees are ready for recycling, they must be free of stands and all decorations.

Girl Scouts will visit neighborhoods throughout the valley only once per weekend on Dec. 29 and 30 and Jan. 5, 6, 12 and 13. Trees should be curbside by 9 a.m. Saturday on the preferred weekend of removal. Trees will be picked up by 6 p.m. each Sunday.

Reservations are necessary only from residents of rural areas of the valley.

Donations should be left under doormats. In rural areas, donations should be left in mailboxes. For those living in condominium or apartment complexes, notes should be attached to trees directing Girl Scouts to condo or apartment numbers to retrieve donations under doormats.

Checks are preferred, made payable to Sonoma Girl Scouts. Donations beyond $10 are greatly appreciated, Valavanis said.

To schedule pick-up in rural areas or to call if your tree was overlooked on a pick-up day, call 205-1233.

For more information or to download a flyer, visit SonomaGirlScouts.com/xmas.

– Dianne Reber Hart

Writer Spotlight

Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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