What Santa does after Christmas

Written by Sven Eberlein

You’d think after sledding for thousands of miles to drop presents through chimneys across the world, Santa would be kicking it in his igloo penthouse, chilling in a massage chair with a bottle of Bourbon.

But no, the job is far from done. Trading in his glamorous red garb for a yellow safety vest, Mr. Claus was found this morning doing overtime at the San Francisco transfer station, helping to dispose of hundreds of Christmas trees piled up 40 feet high and 50 yards across.

Last year, San Franciscans discarded 523 tons of Christmas trees, and that’s just the ones their awesome resource managers at Recology collected. This year, Santa and his helpers are looking to blow that number through the canopy.

Judging by the photos my informant elf sent this morning, San Francisco’s 8th hill, Mt. Christmas Tree, is geared up for some serious towering this year.

Mt. Christmas Tree

The good news is that thanks to Recology’s “treecycling” program, this mountain of discarded trees is being turned into energy instead of taking up space in the landfill, for the 28th year. In what Recology workers dub “Santa’s other workshop,” trees are chipped at the transfer station, then transferred to Tracy where they will serve as biomass (boiler fuel) to generate electricity.

It is, of course, wonderful to see the world’s busiest philanthropist receive such inspired help in keeping his vision sustainable, but it’s still a huge workload and the guy is not getting any younger. Not to mention that the amount of energy that goes into the annual pick-up and transport of entire pine forests all over the world is not likely to be offset by the energy gained from the wood chips.

So, as gentle curses are ever so inaudibly escaping from Santa’s lips, let it be known that he’d be delighted if more Earthlings were to keep living Christmas trees. Not only do they create less waste and work for everyone, but reliable sources tell me they lift people’s spirits, which seems to be the whole point of the Christmas experience. You could even rent one.

Santa himself has been quite impressed with my friend Heather’s reusable Christmas Easel and indicated he would slip the idea into people’s stockings starting next year.


But it might take him a while to get to it, as he will be busy most of the year dealing with all the discarded presents.


transfer station photos courtesy Recology

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Sven Eberlein

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  • Love the easel idea! I sure love SF’s forward thinking nature. May it spread like wildfire all over the globe!

    • Naima, isn’t it cool? Problem is Heather’s kids are starting to rebel against it. They now want a real christmas tree. Presumably because that’s what everyone else has. So my mission is to make the christmas easel into the hippest and coolest thing under the stars. 🙂

    • no kidding. I’ve got confidential word from Santa that Krampus will be taking care of people who buy styrofoam packaging starting next year. 😉