Piles of crumpled wrapping paper, disheveled gift boxes and unwanted Christmas trees are the remnants of holiday festivities. But they don't have to go to waste.
Gift wrap, cardboard and even trees can be recycled reducing waste, minimizing the holidays' effect on the environment and even enhancing it.
Kent Foerster, an environmental scientist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, recommends setting aside a box to collect bows, ribbons and wrapping paper. Ribbons and bows can be used again next year, and wrapping paper can be recycled.
Wal-Mart Community Recycling Center, 3300 Iowa, will accept wrapping paper and cardboard gift boxes as well as plastic, tin, aluminum, glass, newspaper and other paper.
City of Lawrence Solid Waste Division crews will collect live-cut Christmas trees for recycling on the next three Mondays Dec. 31, Jan. 7 and Jan. 14. Residents are asked to set their trees next to their regular trash receptacles or Dumpsters by 6 a.m. on collection days.
The trees will become new homes for area wildlife.
Michelle Crank, city waste reduction and recycling specialist, said recycling live-cut Christmas trees diverted tons of material from landfills.
"Then there's the wildlife benefit," she said. "It's actually sort of helping us remediate the environment at the old landfill near the river. It's contributing to the richness of the soil and the landscape out there and creating habitat for the birds and other wildlife."
More than 36 tons about 2,880 trees were collected last year and used to control erosion and enhance wildlife habitat at the closed landfill north of Riverfront Park and at the Clinton Lake Wildlife Area. The trees were placed into windrows that provided food and cover for birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
In order for trees to be used by wildlife, all lights, decorations, tinsel, ornaments and tree stands must be removed.
In past years, city recycling officials have recommended that people who miss the tree pickup dates contact the Army Corps of Engineers at Clinton Lake, where trees can be submerged underwater to create artificial environments for fish.
However, a corps representative said neither corps nor Clinton Lake State Park officials are taking trees this year.
Foerster said people who recycled their live-cut trees this year should consider buying a tree that can be replanted or purchasing an artificial one next year.