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By Area, Where Your Recycled Christmas Tree Ends Up

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Brace: we're going to tell you what happens to your Christmas tree after you put it out on the curb (or drop it off or whatever). The news is so shocking that a group of Long Beach middle school students "were totally disillusioned" by it last year, according to a city recycling specialist quoted in the investigative report on the matter on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's website. Apparently "They were hoping the trees were going to be turned into a buttery compost." Not so! The actual outcome depends on your location:

Los Angeles: The city's 100,000 trees, picked up via the green bins, "re made into mulch and used as ground cover here or sent to farms in Kern and Ventura counties." Residents are entitled to a free bag at any time of the year.

Santa Monica: The 25 tons of trees dropped off at SaMo parks "are chipped at local parks and pressed into landscaping duty around town; the 2011 crop is now doing duty as mulch at the Santa Monica Airport."

Avalon: Several hundred trees every year are put "in gullies where they provide natural erosion control." Catalina actually puts fourth graders to work stripping off tinsel and laying the trees in the gullies.

Unincorporated LA County communities and about 80 other cities in the county: County trees (last year it was 386,235) "are picked up by trash haulers and trucked to local landfills, where they're ground up to become 'alternative daily cover'--the stuff they put over the trash every night to keep things tidy and reduce odors." The tree cover "lessens smells, prevents fires, reduces dust and 'keeps critters away'." This might be a bit of a problem this year or next since the Puente Hills landfill, which is one of the biggest in the country, is closing.

Riverside County: Old trees "are being placed in Lake Elsinore to create fish habitat"! [Image via Zev Yaroslavsky]
· Lights out for L.A. Christmas trees [ZY]