CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re ready to reclaim your living room and get rid of the Christmas tree, Lake County is already accepting them.

Instead of throwing your tree away, you can donate it to be recycled and used for mulch at one of eight Lake County forest preserves.

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The Forest Preserves’ Director of Public Affairs, Katherine Hamilton-Smith said they began collecting old trees the day after Christmas at eight preserves, from 6:30am until sunset. WBBM’s Nancy Harty reports.

“Since the 26th, which I think is the first day that peaks the eager beavers, so to speak, to get going on taking down the Christmas decorations,” Hamilton-Smith said.

It’s a tradition dating back at least 20 years that has saved 300 to 400 trees each year from being thrown in the trash, she said.

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Drop-offs will only be accepted at the marked sites, below between December 26 and February 1:

– Grant Woods in Fox Lake: Drop trees off at Monaville Road entrance, second parking lot.
– Greenbelt in Waukegan: Drop trees off next to maintenance facility.
– Half Day in Vernon Hills: Drop trees off next to maintenance facility.
– Heron Creek in Long Grove: Drop trees off at Shelter A.
– Lakewood in Wauconda: Drop trees off along Forest Preserve Drive.
– Old School in Libertyville: Drop trees off near main entrance.
– Ryerson Woods in Deerfield: Drop trees off at the end of main entrance road.
– Van Patten Woods in Wadsworth: Drop trees off just past the Shelter A parking area.

The forest preserve runs them through a chipper and uses the remains for mulch on trails and in landscaping.

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Only real trees without decorations are accepted.