The holidays are a time of family gathering, celebration and tradition. One tradition that many Austin residents are fond of is decorating the ashe juniper (mountain cedar) trees along Loop 360. Unfortunately, the practice of decorating those trees means many decorations stay up well after the holiday season.

Removing the leftover decorations is a priority for Keep Austin Beautiful, due to concerns 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 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. But 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. “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 10, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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 can be purchased for reuse. This year, Keep Austin Beautiful is asking for 100 volunteers to assist in the post-holiday cleanup. Volunteer by registering at All supplies will be provided.

Keep Austin Beautiful provides resources and education to engage citizens in building more beautiful communities. For more information on Keep Austin Beautiful, visit

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