On January 9th, Alameda Boy Scout Troop 11 launched its 49th annual Christmas Tree Pick Up and Recycling program. The service project has become a holiday tradition for Alameda.
The first Christmas Tree Pick Up event started as an Eagle Scout project by Harold Zecher, Jr. in 1972, well before the county offered recycling programs. Today, some will ask why participate in a tree collection service when the county offers tree removal for free? Alameda County Industries (ACI) actually supports the troops recycling program and promotes it on their website. Having the scouts remove close to 1000 trees across Alameda greatly easies the tree removal burden for ACI. This year Christmas tree purchases hit record sales. Some families purchased multiple trees. With loyal community support, this fundraiser offsets troop expenses for general operations, summer camp, and other scouting activities each year.
In addition to tree removal, Troop 11 has partnered with Juniper Ridge, a Berkeley-based company, that distills essential oils from the trees to formulate fragrances for soaps, perfumes, and incense. In exchange for the trees, the company donates the use of its wood chipper. Any remaining wood chips are upcycled for landscaping—creating additional reuse of the trees and reducing trees in the waste stream.
In the past, Alameda residents could count on a Troop 11 scout knocking on their door to canvass support. Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, the scouts canceled all door-to-door and booth sales, and used socially distant methods to practice their salesman skills such as phoning and emailing longtime loyal customers, and moved to door hangers and online transactions. Despite these challenges, the troop had a successful event and even learned some selling and promotion strategies that will be incorporated in the future.