According to the Oregonian, Portland is the number one purchaser and disposer of Christmas trees every year. This may fly in the face of the city’s well-known waste reduction policies, but it actually epitomizes the lengths Portlanders will go to in order to avoid using landfills. Residents can leave their Christmas tees and other festive organic decorations for the garbage man to pick up, where they will eventually be run through a wood chipper. The resulting mulch can be used for the city’s landscaping projects or delivered to composting plants.

However, there are other groups in the Portland area who have traditionally capitalized on the annual demand for tree disposal. Non-profit groups such as the local chapters of the Boy and Girl Scouts have been running collection services to remove Christmas trees for residents for over 23 years. The money raised from this activity helps to fund the troop’s summer camp programs, but in the last few years the returns have been diminishing. Ever since Portland began offering curbside pick-up for trees, local non-profits, such as the Boy Scouts, have been losing out on donations.

However, looking at the big picture, the number of choices open to Portland residents for responsibly disposing of their holiday waste is a good thing overall. Using either the municipal trash service or the Boy Scout’s donation drive prevents more waste from going into Portland’s dumpsters and landfills. And both programs use the trees they collect for landscaping and composting purposes, which is the optimal way to dispose of organic waste.

These services can serve as a model for other U.S. cities who find themselves inundated at the end of the year with trees and wreaths. The whole process ends up being better for the city’s wallet and environment.