BUCKTOWN — The wrapping paper is gone, the decorations are being boxed up, and the Christmas tree is littering the floor with dried-up needles. What now?
Steve Jensen, president of the Bucktown Community Organization, has an idea: Let him recycle your tree for you.
Last weekend, 30 Christmas trees were saved from being thrown into landfills thanks to his efforts.
"Trees do not compact in a landfill," Jensen, 44, an IT consultant, said. "They should be going into a wood chipper."
For the fourth year in a row, Jensen stationed his bright red pickup truck in easily accessible spots for residents: the lot alongside Club Lucky, 1825 W. Wabansia Ave., on Saturday and the library, 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave. Sunday.
Tom Sonnleitner, 42, an IT consultant, said he'd read about Jensen's weekend tree drop-off in 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack's Friday newsletter.
Sonnleitner arrived by foot, with tree in hand, about 9 a.m. Saturday.
"It makes sense to dispose of it like this. People don't want to put the tree back on their car roof," Sonnleitner said.
Murphy MacDonald, 43, a design researcher, heard about the program in an e-newsletter Jensen sent out Friday to members of the community group.
Like Sonnleitner, Macdonald walked his tree over to Jensen's truck.
"It's such a thrill to take care of this so easy," MacDonald said, before giving Jensen a cash donation.
Jensen is using the donations — some $30 tallied so far — toward filling his gas tank.
Between Saturday and Sunday, Jensen said he made five trips back and forth to the Humboldt Park Boat House at 1369 N. Sacramento Ave.
The City of Chicago, in partnership with Streets and Sanitation Department, hosts 23 drop-off locations for Christmas trees, which are turned into mulch and given away free to residents.
Since the program began 24 years ago, more than 157,700 trees have been saved from landfills.
Humboldt Park is the nearest drop-off location to Wicker Park and Bucktown. The 23 drop-off sites accept trees from Jan. 5-18. For the full list, click here.
Jensen said he probably will run his program until Jan. 18 and is gearing it toward people who do not have cars or prefer to carry their trees by foot.
For now, Jensen said he's planning to be parked outside Club Lucky on Saturdays from 8-10 a.m., and on Sundays at the library at 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave. from 8-10 a.m. Send an email to Jensen to be added to his list.