As you pack up all the refuse from the 2008 holiday season -- needle-dropping dried trees, various animal carcasses that have been picked clean by hungry celebrants and, of course, yards and yards of crumpled up wrapping paper -- the City of Hesperia hopes you have less waste, and dispose of it better, in 2009.


Hesperia might not have the separate recycling bins common elsewhere in the state, choosing to sort at the opposite end of the collection process, sifting through trash before it ends up in the landfill. And it seems to be working.


"We have over 53 percent diversion," said city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy, "And the state requires 50 percent."


But for residents who are open to a more hands-on approach to recycling, the city has that covered, too.


"Hesperia residents have a lot of options to recycle in the city," Malloy said.


For starters, she said, you have until January 16 to get that tree hauled away for free by Advance Disposal during the normal weekly trash pick-up. The tree's stand and ornaments must be removed, and trees taller that six feet must be cut in half.


"But there's also ways to impact the community as a whole," Malloy said. "For instance, the Adopt a Street program, where an individual or community group is invited to adopt a one-mile stretch of street or highway. All we ask is that they do a minimum of four clean-ups a year ... with a two-year commitment."


By the time this article appears in the January 6 edition of the Hesperia Star, the first e-waste drop-off event will have passed, as it took place on Saturday, January 3, but it won't be the last chance for residents to safely recycle electronics this year. (Electronics, including computers, televisions, cell phones and keyboards, contain lead, mercury and other hazardous chemicals that can leech into the city's water supply if simply dropped into the landfill.)


"We're trying to have three e-waste events this year," Malloy said. The city's current plans are for spring and fall events in 2009. "So, you have your new year's resolution, spring cleaning and then getting ready for school in the fall. We're trying to make it easier for people."


Other household hazardous materials can be dropped off at the waste facility located at the fire station on Lemon Street.


"That's where people should take batteries, old paint. Anything that that would be toxic if they brought it to the landfill," Malloy said. Hazardous materials can be dropped off three times a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. "Oil, oil filters, household cleaners ..."


The city also makes recycling into a competition, with a coloring contest for younger kids, clean-up competitions that pit Hesperia's high schools against each other and the city itself participates in an nationwide aluminum recycling competition each October.


"It's based on who can receive the most," Malloy said. "This year we actually collected almost 55.5 tons. And that's in just a one-month period."


The city also gives out canvas shopping bags in an effort to get residents not to use plastic grocery bags. It's also providing more recycling opportunities for plastic bags at smaller stores around Hesperia.


And finally, the city is practicing what it's preaching with its quarterly Earthwatch newsletter, which will not be appearing in residents' mailboxes.


"It's completely electronic, to conserve paper," said Malloy.


For more information about any of the City of Hesperia's recycling programs or other green initiatives, call 947-1589 or visit the city's Web site: www.CityofHesperia.us.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.