As most Louisianians know, a number of environmental and human factors ranging from levees and canals to nutrias and rising sea levels have converged to decimate our coastline. Every hour, a football-field sized swath of Louisiana disappears, according to an oft-cited (and accurate) analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1932, we’ve lost 1,883 square miles of land to the sea—that’s more than the entire state of Rhode Island.
Yes, Louisiana is slowly and inexorably (for now) becoming a modern-day Atlantis. The silver lining? Your shriveled, crusty old holiday fir can help stem the tide of land loss and restore the wetlands. The city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability is funding a recycling initiative to collect Orleans Parish trees and airlift them to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. Once in place, the mulched trees help keep sediment in place and serve as a base for new vegetation. Last year, the city collected more than 8,000 trees.
If you’d like to participate, here’s what to do.
- Buy a natural, unflocked tree.
- Don’t put tinsel on it.
- After Christmas, remove all decorations, lights, and trimming.
- Put the tree on the curb before 5 a.m. on your “regularly scheduled second collection day that occurs between Jan. 10-12, 2019,” according to a press release from the city. French Quarter residents should place their trees curbside before 4 a.m. Wednesday, January 9.
If that timeline seems a bit nebulous to you, then you can let your tree hang out curbside for a while, or you can call 311 to get more information.