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Lethbridge elementary school collects 1,500 live Christmas trees during annual event

Christmas trees being dropped off at the Nicholas Sheran Leisure Centre parking lot on Jan. 9, 2021. Eloise Therien / Global News

The 28th annual Christmas tree collection program took place over the weekend in Lethbridge, diverting unnecessary waste from the landfill while creating free mulch for residents.

Senator Buchanan Elementary School received a $10,000 honorarium for participating in this year’s collection, bringing in roughly 1,500 trees from across the city Saturday — 300 on the north side, and 600 each in the south and west.

Read more: Recycled as wood chips or homes for birds, your Christmas trees will get a second life

Gordon Prest, environmental initiatives coordinator with the Waste and Recycling Department, said this year was on par with what they typically see.

“Depending on the year, it does go up and down, but usually we see between 1,400 to 1,700 trees,” Prest explained.

Christmas trees can be composted at the Waste & Recycling Centre any time of the year, but anyone who missed the Saturday collection can call 311 during business hours this week, and schedule a free pickup for Jan. 16.

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“After we get all of the missed tree collections, our parks department will go and chip them, and then bring that [mulch] to Peenaquim Park for residents to pick up for free,” Prest said. “Sometimes it’ll last a few months, sometimes it’s actually quite quick.”

READ MORE: Christmas tree collection set to wrap up in Edmonton after weather-related delays

The city said mulch can be used as an environmentally-friendly addition to planting beds to reduce the need for watering and weeding. It will be available for pickup later this month.

Since the program began, around 80,000 trees have been diverted from the landfill, while providing funds to local youth groups in the process.

READ MORE: Christmas tree disposal in the Okanagan

Volunteer Kenny Fuglerud said he was slightly surprised by how many trees were placed for pickup over the weekend, and was glad to be able to participate during the mild January weather.

“The people who engaged in the process were very pleasant about it, and had their tree ready for pickup,” he said. “I thought that overall the process was pretty smooth.”

Prest said information for future collections is usually released in the fall, but youth groups interested in participating can contact Waste & Recycling Services for details on making a submission.

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