Yoga during the holidays — a gift you can give yourself

A volunteer adds another tree to the pile of trees waiting 
to be mulched at Irons Oaks Environmental 
Learning Center on Saturday morning.
by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle)

Hundreds of live Christmas trees that added a touch of pine forest to local homes are returning to the forest floor as mulch, thanks to local residents.

For the sixth year, the annual Christmas Tree Recycling Program at Irons Oaks was a hit. By Saturday at 10:30 a.m., more than 100 trees had already been mulched by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District and another 100 were piled up, waiting their turn.

Jennifer Molski, left, and 
Tony Manos, are the founders
of the HF Christmas Tree 
Recycling Program.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers like Doug Molski provided “drive through” drop-off service that let people stay in their cars.

“You did a good job! The tree didn’t fall off,” he said to Marie Jones, who was glad to bring her tree to be recycled.

“It’s great,” she said of the program. “I’m all about preserving the environment,” the Homewood woman said. “From trees to bottles to plastic, I’m on it. I want to do as much as I can.”

Her son, Connor, a student at Churchill School, said it was important to recycle “because it makes the world a better place.” The 9-year-old and his 12-year-old cousin, Brandon Phillips of University Park, received candy canes, one of the festive touches to the end-of-the-holidays event.

Tony Manos helps unload a 
Christmas tree from a patron’s 

There also was a winter bonfire and free hot chocolate, features that have helped make it fun for families establishing a Christmas tradition of recycling their trees, said Jennifer Molski, who launched the program with her husband, Tony Manos, in 2010.

This year, the drop-off period has been extended to Jan. 18 in order to save even more trees from area landfills. While Illinois regulations prohibit yard waste including leaves, lawn clippings and branches from landfill, Christmas trees are permitted, taking up space and denying the earth valuable nutrients created in decomposition.

With the Christmas Tree Recycling Program, however, trees are mulched on site and the material is spread on the trails at Irons Oaks, Jennifer Molski said.

“Without the recycled trees, the park district would have to buy mulch,” she said, “so recycling your Christmas tree is another way to give back to the local community.”

Residents also were welcome to recycle holiday lights, and boxes were quickly filling up at Irons Oaks on Saturday.

Those who want to recycle their tree or lights after Saturday may do so. Trees need to be completely bare and free of any ornaments, plastic bags, lights, tinsel and wire. Trees should be placed on the pile with the trunks facing Vollmer Road. No wreaths or garland (with wire or plastic) can be accepted, however.

Those who want to recycle their holiday lights are invited to drop them off by Jan. 18 at Flossmoor Village Hall, H-F Ice Arena, H-F Racquet Club, Irons Oaks, Irwin Center and Wiley’s Grill.

For additional information, go to www.hfchristmastreerecycling.com.

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