London

Where London's Christmas trees go to die

What happens to Christmas trees after the holidays?

Curbside collection begins on Monday, Jan. 7 at 7 a.m. in London

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is recommending simply placing your old Christmas tree in your back yard this year instead of throwing it out to provide shelter for overwintering song birds. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Nothing serves as a sad reminder of the holiday's end quite like the drooping remains of a Christmas tree.

But one person's trash is another creature's home, says the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The environmental group is urging Canadians to simply toss their old festive timber in the backyard.

"Evergreens provide important shelter for birds on cold nights and during storms," says Dan Krauss, the Conservancy's senior conservation biologist.

Londoner Alek Contic, 46, says it's a good option but not one he'll be going for this year.

Londoner Alek Contic is happy to stick with curbside pick-up for his Christmas tree. (Megan Kwan/CBC)

"In our neighbourhood, we don't have much backyard space," said Contic. "Square footage is valuable."

And with two young boys, he prefers to keep that space open.

Instead, Contic is sticking to the city's designated collection to dispose of his tree.

For the third year in a row, London is offering curbside pick-up for trees to divert unnecessary waste from landfills.

Collection begins on Monday, Jan. 07 at 7 a.m..

Jay Stanford, Director of Environmental Programs and Solid Waste, warns Londoners to have their trees out on the curb at the start of the week as there's no set schedule for pick-up.

"It'll be as we go throughout the week, determined by truck availability," said Stanford. "Every street will be passed through just once."

Stanford also advises Londoners to review the collection rules. Decorations, lights, plastic bags and tree stands contaminate Try Recycling's refined composting process. If such materials are left on the tree, the city won't collect it.

But if Londoners break the rules and are stuck with their tree or miss the collection period altogether, the city's four drop-off depots will be open on a limited winter schedule.

A creative alternative for Christmas conifers

Londoner Brian Magee is getting creative to preserve his Christmas tree. (Megan Kwan/ CBC)

Some Londoners are finding new ways to use their old Christmas timber.

Despite being allergic to most trees, Brian Magee, 47, has compromised his health for his children's happiness for the past 14 years.

This year, his family opted for a tree species that held up remarkably well throughout the holidays.

"We're actually going to keep this tree and put it into a Greek feta barrel," said Magee, a past contestant on Chopped Canada. His family plans to halve the old cheese barrel, fill it with soil, and preserve the tree for as long as possible.

Magee says he hopes it lasts through until next year.

"Mother Nature is great, and we want to make sure she's happy," he said.

Plus, he'll be saving himself 90 dollars.