Dreaming of a Green Christmas? Learn How to Recycle Your Tree for a Sustainable Holiday Season

by Keep Georgia Beautiful

As the holiday season comes to a close each year, people across the country face an important question: what should we do with our well-loved, and now quite dry, Christmas trees? For the past 28 years in Georgia, the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation and its network of affiliates have provided an answer: recycle them!

Although the popularity of artificial trees has risen over the years, real trees provide a sustainable solution for families and wildlife alike. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, nearly 350 million Christmas trees currently grow on U.S. farms, absorbing carbon dioxide, emitting fresh oxygen, stabilizing soil, protecting water supplies, and providing refuge for wildlife. For each tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted in its place, making them a renewable resource, and when people purchase them, they also support local economies.

That environmental stewardship continues when individuals make the choice to recycle their trees in January. Through Keep Georgia Beautiful’s “Bring One for the Chipper” program, trees are collected at over 130 locations throughout the state and repurposed in ways that benefit the environment. The program transforms a large number of trees into mulch for playgrounds, city and county landscaping projects, and individual homes, and sinks others into lakes to create fish habitats. Since the program’s inception, communities across Georgia have diverted over 6 million trees from landfills.

“Bring One for the Chipper” has become a widespread environmental tradition in Georgia. Thanks to partners like The Home Depot, The Davey Tree Expert Company, Georgia Forestry Commission, 11 Alive, Ferry Morse Seed Company, Burpee Seed Company, and One Tree Planted, communities have the drop-off locations, media promotion, and chipper services they need to be successful. Participants also receive complimentary tree seedlings or flower and vegetable seeds to take home with them. Along with the enthusiasm and dedication of nearly 1,000 local volunteers, these resources encourage residents across the state to return year after year.

So if you live in Georgia, visit www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org on December 21 to find a ‘treecycling’ location near you. If you reside in another state, check with the nonprofits, local businesses, and recycling providers in your area – although “Bring One for the Chipper” is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, opportunities for recycling trees are increasing in every city and town. It’s easy to do your part to make the holiday season sustainable!

About Keep Georgia Beautiful

Keep Georgia Beautiful has a 40 year history of doing the little things that make a big difference in Georgia communities. Established as the first-ever state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful in 1978 by Governor George Busbee, Keep Georgia Beautiful became a 501(3)c nonprofit in 2011 and builds sustainable communities through litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, water resource management, and community greening. Keep Georgia Beautiful provides support to the largest network of local affiliates in the country, and our 78 local programs represent 80% of Georgia’s population. For more information, visit www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

AMERICAN GROVE IS CHANGING.

AmericanGrove.org has been in existence since 2008, with the creation of GeorgiaGrove.org.  In recent years, community use has not met our target goals. With that in mind, we are rethinking our mission and searching for innovative ways to engage our community of tree enthusiasts.

We know that some of our members are very dedicated to the Grove’s success, and we thank you for your participation and energy.  There are many more tree enthusiasts out there who are not utilizing American Grove.  Would you like to help us reinvigorate the site and be part of the change-making that we seek? 

We invite your feedback and suggestions.  Please e-mail morgan@americangrove.org with your thoughts or comment publicly below.  We thank you!

Here’s what we know:

  • Top five member states: Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, and Washington
  • Most active groves: Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia and Maryland
  • Number of states with fewer than 10 members: 15
  • Number of states with greater than 200 members: 3
  • Number of groves with no activity in the past six months: 43

Some questions for you to consider:

  • What content do you like to post? (videos, photos, questions, etc.)  Do you get the responses you need?
  • Which social media platforms or listserv do you use for other areas of your life?
  • How many other avenues does your group have to disseminate information?
  • Are there other tree groups outside of American Grove that you are involved with that already meet your tree needs?
  • Has American Grove driven action for trees in your community?
  • Would it be okay to have a national community only (no individual groves)?

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    • Are there other tree groups outside of American Grove that you are involved with that already meet your tree needs?

    Arbor Day Foundation, Trees Forever, Morton Arboretum. Illinois Dept of Natural Resources-Urban Forestry.

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Let Them Climb Trees: The Benefits of Nature for Kids

Think back to your fondest memories of childhood. What comes to mind? I would bet that most of you would talk about that time you made a tree house with your dad, or long summer days playing in the woods, climbing trees, and running through the nearby creek unsupervised for hours on end. 

Many children today, however, do not have these experiences. Children today play outside less often and for briefer periods. We are just starting to understand the many effects of this change on our youth’s wellbeing. Playtime, especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play, is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development. It is also recognized that children are also more physically active when they are outside.

Additionally, research has confirmed the restorative effects of even limited contact with nature for both children and adults in attention restoration and managing symptoms of attention deficit disorders (Berman and others 2008). Research is also demonstrating the multiple benefits of exposure to nature in a school environment, such as increased student achievement, motivation, behavior, and understanding of concepts taught.

Healthier kids. Outdoor activity can improve children’s health by helping to prevent and treat obesity and associated health problems, as well as mental health issues. One study at the University of Washington of almost 4,000 children found that children living in greener areas have a lower body mass index and gained weight more slowly over the study period than children with less access to green space.

Increased social interaction. One reason for the emotional benefits of nature may be that green space promotes social interaction and thereby fosters social support. Studies are finding that outdoor kids are better able to relate to other children and adults and have more realistic life expectations. A Swedish study found that children and parents who live in places that allow for outdoor access have twice as many friends as those who have restricted outdoor access due to traffic concerns.

Some of the other key benefits of nature exposure include: enhanced creativity, parent-child engagement, improved school performance.... Click here to view the whole article.

Annie Hermansen-Báez is the Science Delivery/Kids in the Woods Coordinator for the USDA Forest Service’s Urban Forestry South (Southern Research Station and Region 8 Partnership) located in Gainesville, FL. Her work focuses on directing a regionwide science delivery program that develops and delivers information to increase our understanding of the interactions between natural and human systems in urban and urbanizing landscapes, covering topics such as children and nature, human health and nature connection, outdoor learning, wildland-urban interface, and more. She also leads Kids in the Woods and green schools programs at local middle and elementary schools.

Announcing 2018's Great American Tree

The Lone Hill United Methodist Church National Champion Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), has planted its legacy with Georgia residents and within the hearts of American Grove members.

2018’s Great American Tree embodies the deep-rooted connectedness shared among families connected by Coffee County, Georgia. The Lone Hill United Methodist Church national champion tree is as strong as it is sturdy, lifting the spirits of those who have come into contact with its encompassing stature. A symbol of immortal admiration, our Great American Tree provides shade and comfort to those who need it most. Through years of unwavering support, this tree has become a consistent family member to Georgia residents. Our humbling giant is a product of community that embraces those who stop to exchange smiles and hugs beneath the branches. 

This year’s runner up is the noble Knight Oak of Tampa, Florida. This oak is thought to be one of the oldest living trees in the city. This tree honors the legacy of Peter O. Knight, a historic American military leader. This tree not only serves as an honor to the Knight family, but is also an honor to behold. This live oak is nothing short of magnificent. The gothic style tree stands proud and unwavering conveying a sense of strength throughout the years of its residency. However, the beauty does not take away from the surrounding grove members, but instead adds a sense of prestige and dignity to its immediate environment. The historical significance exemplifies a truly worthy specimen.

Third Place: There are many fascinating aspects to the biology of the Devil's Walking Stick. The sharp thorns found on the trunk, branches, and leaves, give the Devil's Walking Stick its common name. The spikes on the bark are used to fight off hungry herbivores. However, in metro Atlanta, this tree receives nothing but love and admiration! Although not inviting to the touch, it still welcomes those in search of summer shade and company. The Devil's Walking Stick resides in Decatur's Woodlands Garden. This native tree with giant compound leaves welcomes all visitors and pollinators.

Please click our Great American Tree tab to enjoy all the beautiful nominations we recieved in this year's competition.

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2018’s Great American Tree

The Lone Hill United Methodist Church national champion tree is as strong as it is sturdy, lifting the spirits of those who have come into contact with its encompassing stature. A symbol of immortal admiration, our Great American Tree provides shade and comfort to those who need it most. Through years of unwavering support, this tree has become a consistent family member to Georgia residents. Our humbling giant is a product of community that embraces those who stop to exchange smiles and hugs beneath the branches. 

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The American Grove is an online community for sharing experiences and knowledge about trees and the benefits they provide to communities throughout the nation.

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Questions? Contact us at: Morgan@americangrove.org

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