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Tips for undecking the halls and kicking tree to the curb

Nancy Flores
nflores@statesman.com

After the presents have been unwrapped and the food eaten, a less-festive routine awaits. There's nothing merry about tackling the post-holiday cleanup. But dragging out the process for an embarrassingly long time only deprives you of the fresh start the new year promises.

From reusing holiday cards to recycling your Christmas tree, here are some places to turn to so that the cleaning and organizing process doesn't have to overwhelm you into 2012.

• Recycle your Christmas tree. Take off all decorations, set it out on the curb and forget about it. Starting Monday , the Austin Resource Recovery (formerly Solid Waste Services) will pick up all trees and yard trimmings on regularly scheduled collection days. Your Christmas tree eventually becomes Dillo Dirt, a compost made by the City of Austin. Every year, almost 20,000 trees are kept out of area landfills. Not a City of Austin trash customer? You can drop off your tree for recycling at Zilker Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 7, 8, 14 and 15. The trees dropped off here will be converted to mulch, and in mid-January Austin residents can come back with a bag and take some mulch for free. It's available on a first-come, first-served basis.

• Donate your used cards. Mail the front of used cards to St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, NV 89005. The program does not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greetings Cards. Make sure the backside is clear of writing.

Children and volunteers create new cards, sell them and help raise money for St. Jude's. For more information, visit www.stjudesranch.org/shop/recycled-card-program or call (877) 977-7572.

• Reuse packing peanuts and recycle cardboard boxes. So you've unwrapped your presents and now have a recycling bin overflowing with boxes? Drop off your extra corrugated cardboard at Ecology Action. 707 E. Ninth St. For more information, visit ecology-action.org .

Get rid of those packing peanuts by calling the Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 to find the store nearest you that accepts your unwanted stash. Or you can visit loosefillpackaging.com .

nflores@statesman.com; 912-2559