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Ron Goodman unloads his family's Christmas tree at a tree recycling lot in 2010. 

When your fresh cut Christmas tree has lost its piney smell, no longer has gifts beneath it and begins dropping copious amounts of needles, you may be tempted to get rid of it any way possible. 

But local officials are urging you to do the right thing: recycle it.

Kern County and the city of Bakersfield offer plenty of free, drop-off locations where trees will be collected and then made into compost at the city's greenwaste facility.

"If you do it through a proper recycling program it will go back in a positive way into the environment," said Kern County Public Works spokeswoman Heidi Carter-Escudero. 

If not? 

"It just becomes someone else’s trash and it’s a fire hazard," she said.

And that's not the spirit of the season. 

Another option is to put the tree in your green bin, if it fits. The lid on green bins must close, Carter-Escudero said, so it may require some trimming or sawing depending on the tree size to fit it all inside the can.  

(Side note courtesy of Carter-Escudero: do not put an unwanted artificial Christmas tree in a blue recycling bin. The only proper place to dispose of them is a landfill.)

But if after all the holiday festivities, you don't have it in you to wrangle your tree into a plastic bin, drop-off locations at the Kern County Fairgrounds and Bakersfield College are even open 24 hours.

"Everyone doesn’t have an axe or a chainsaw to chop them up at home so we're just trying to make something readily available to the general public," said Jessica Felix, community relations specialist for the City of Bakersfield's solid waste division.

Drop-offs will be accepted from Dec. 26, the day after Christmas, through Jan. 10, according to the county public works department. 

In addition to the fairgrounds and Bakersfield College, drop-off locations in the metro Bakersfield area include:

  • Bena Landfill, 2951 Neumarkel Road, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Shafter/Wasco Landfill, 17621 Scofield Road, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Roberts Lane Transfer Station, 1900 Roberts Lane, Thursdays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon
  • Bakersfield Green Waste Facility, 2601 S. Mt. Vernon Ave. 

Trees must be free of decorations, flocking, plastic bags, nails and plastic or metal tree stands. Wooden tree stands are OK. 

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