COLUMBIA — At least 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
These trees can be chipped up and sold as mulch as a environmentally friendly solution to ending up in a landfill.
The city of Columbia is offering a Christmas Tree Recycling Program again this season. The city has curbside pickup services and drop-off sites.
Whole trees can be picked up curbside with regular trash until Jan. 31. After Jan. 31, all trees need to be cut into four-foot lengths and bundled.
Christmas trees collected from curbside pickups will be used in the city's bioreactor landfill, according to the city's website. The bioreactor speeds up the decomposition of waste and is used as a renewable energy source to produce electricity.
Trees can be dropped off at the mulch site at Capen Park, 1600 Capen Park Drive, or at the mulch site on Parkside Drive, off Creasy Springs Road near Cosmo Park.
Christmas trees can also be dropped off in the south parking lot of Boone Electric Cooperative, 1413 Range Line St. The drop-off site is open 24 hours a day and customers can take home a free bag of mulch for bringing in trees.
Christmas cards can be donated to the St. Jude's Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program instead of landing in the trash.
For more than 30 years, St. Jude's Ranch has been recycling cards for all occasions, giving children the opportunity to understand the importance of going green.
The children help make new cards by separating the front and attaching new backs.
Cards can be sent to St. Jude's Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program in Boulder City, Nev. Packets of the recycled cards are also available for purchase from the ranch.
According to Earth911.com, wrapping paper and shopping bags account for about 4 million tons of trash each year in the United States.
Wrapping paper is typically thin and contains non-paper additives, such as plastic and glitter, making it harder to recycle, but gift bags and boxes can be reused.
From Thanksgiving to New Year's, the U.S. produces an additional 5 million tons of waste each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Eating leftovers greatly reduces the amount of food waste after holiday feasts.
Correct food storage helps extend the shelf life of many dishes. Plasticsinfo.org offers a list of safety tips to keep food longer and to reduce food-borne illnesses.