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Tuesday, July 17

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Now, what should we do with this tree?

We hope everyone had a happy holiday with family and friends! Now that the holidays are winding to a close, you might have a festive, but slowly de-needling tree in your home. You may be planning on leaving it up for a few more weeks (or months), but before you know it, you’re going to want it out of the house. But what should you do with it?

Recycle it! Trees are completely biodegradable, and you can give one last gift this holiday season by giving your tree back to the Earth. Just be sure to remove all your lights and ornaments (and mischievous cats) before doing so.

Live trees can be used whole or turned into mulch for all sorts of purposes. The National Christmas Tree Association has a list of great things your tree can be used for. Your tree can become a part of your garden where birds can feed and seek shelter, or you can sink a tree into your pond, if you have one, where fish can seek shelter too. Trees can also be used to slow erosion on rivers and lakes. A mulched tree is a great addition to your garden as well, and the mulch would also fit nicely on a pathway or trail around your home.

If you’d like to donate your tree to be recycled, check with your curbside pick-up provider or nearest recycling center to see to see if they’ll accept holiday trees. Your city or county may be organizing a tree recycling and mulching program too. If not, another great resource is your nearest Home Depot – many stores offer tree recycling free of charge! Give them a call to find out if a store near you is participating.

If you’re curious about whether you can donate your tree to Zoo Atlanta, we are very thankful you want to give the animals some festive enrichment, but in keeping with protocol set forth by our Veterinary Team, the animals at the Zoo cannot have trees which have already been decorated or used in homes. While you may see the animals enjoying holiday trees – for snacks or for play – at this time of year, none of these have been previously used.

Instead, you can take your tree to our friends right down the road at CHaRM, the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials. CHaRm is accepting not only trees, but all your old electronics, lights, Styrofoam and other packaging materials as well. Check their website for directions and holiday hours.

Speaking of old electronics, if you received a new phone or tablet as a gift this year, be sure to recycle your old one to help save gorillas! If you haven’t heard, our handy electronics are produced using a mineral called coltan. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of only a few places on the planet where coltan is found – right in the middle of endangered gorilla habitats. By recycling your phones, you can reduce the demand for coltan just a little, and you will be helping save the homes and lives of critically endangered animals.

Next time you visit us, you can bring your old phones to a drop-off box in our Ford Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center. You can also mail your old phones directly to our ECO-CELL partner – see our cell phone conservation page for more information.

Thank you for recycling and helping out the Earth this holiday season!

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl