The holidays are a time of family gathering, celebration, and tradition. One tradition that many Austin residents are fond of is decorating the juniper (mountain cedar) trees off Loop 360. The tradition of decorating trees along the highway leaves many decorations up well after the holiday season.
Removing the left-over decorations is a priority for Keep Austin Beautiful due to the concern for the surrounding environment. The festive accessories pose a potential threat to wildlife that may mistake the ornaments for food and the Bull Creek watershed as the items come loose and wash into the nearby creek.
This year, Keep Austin Beautiful is asking Austinites to love the holidays, love the trees, and love Austin by letting the beauty of the trees speak for themselves. If you’re set on decorating a cedar tree this year, make sure you are doing your part to keep Austin beautiful by remembering to remove decorations in a timely manner and exploring biodegradable decorations – fruit ornamentals and tinsel made of popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit provide an earth-friendly alternative.
“It’s not about what is on the tree it is what has fallen off or what remains,” stated Executive Director, Rodney Ahart stated. “We as Austinites have an obligation to restore the environment to its natural state avoiding any harmful effects to wildlife or the nearby Bull Creek.”
For any decorations that remain after the holidays, Keep Austin Beautiful will be holding its annual post-holiday cleanup on Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 9 am to 11 am.
Last year, a total of 43 bags of trash were collected and an additional 29 bags of usable decorations. The decorations were donated to Goodwill where they may be purchased for reuse next year. This year, Keep Austin Beautiful is recruiting 100 volunteers to assist in the post-holiday cleanup. Austinites are invited to volunteer by registering at keepaustinbeautiful.org. All supplies will be provided.
See results and coverage from the 2016 post-holiday cleanup:
Fox 7 - Christmas Cleanup on Loop 360
Austin American-Statesman - 4th Annual Highway 360 Cleanup