We speak of Chipping of the Green.
For any unfamiliar with this annual opportunity, it is an initiative made possible by a three-way partnership involving Santek Waste Services, the Bradley County Road Department and the Bradley County Mayor’s Office.
It’s this simple.
Instead of tossing discarded Christmas trees to the curb to be hauled off by refuse crews, area residents are asked to transport their bare evergreens to a Bradley County Recycling Center or to the Bradley County Landfill. Using a chipper on loan from the county road department, the trees — which have adorned household living rooms since Thanksgiving — will be ground into mulch and given away free to area residents who want it.
Chipping of the Green has been offered for several years and its outreach to the community is well placed. But frankly, participation has been limited. Obviously, when it’s time for Christmas trees to come down, the easiest course is often the road most taken.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it the right road.
Programs like Chipping of the Green originate for a reason. We liken it to another community program which is also made possible through Santek, Bradley County government, Cleveland Utilities, Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful and Tri-State Exhibition Center. We refer to Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.
Like Chipping of the Green, HHWCD seeks to protect the landfill and to extend its longevity. Additionally, both initiatives target a growing need in a growingly cluttered world — recycling.
Recycling is not difficult.
Recycling costs very little other than the expense of additional storage bins or trash cans.
Recycling harms no one nor does it overly inconvenience participants.
It does take commitment. It does require a level of dedication. But for area residents who see it through, a new mindset is born.
Such renewed awareness of environmental protection breeds a whole new mindset unto itself. It is one that frowns upon waste, defends against the casual practice of littering and serves as a model for others to follow once they become convinced of its value.
When it comes to Planet Earth, one must see the big picture in order to embrace its span of life. Such appreciation is an educational tool for understanding that this world’s natural resources are not unlimited. For lack of a better way of phrasing it, sooner or later our planet will run out of the “stuff” that maintains it as a living, breathing entity. Sooner or later its clutter will become more than just an eyesore, but a true hazard to life as we know it.
But such gradual disaster does not have to happen. Such threats to fresh air, pure water and untainted land are not necessarily inevitable.
All it takes is a little commitment and a lot of vision.
Admittedly, this sounds overly heavy and perhaps even melodramatic in the face of simple decisions like shredding a Christmas tree into mulch.
But seemingly innocent first steps can lead to a straighter path into a promising future. At the very least, it can give birth to new habits. A decision to recycle a Christmas tree can evolve into more — bagging aluminum cans, separating plastics and stacking old newspapers, all of which are done in hopes of a pending haul to a recycling center.
For those who want to make a start, and to those who want to continue their household tradition, Chipping of the Green is accepting trees at the landfill and at each recycling center through Jan. 11. Landfill hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday; the Urbane Road Recycling Center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the Peerless Road Recycling Center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m.
For those using the recycling centers during nonoperating hours, leave just your tree outside the locked gates. They’ll be hauled to the landfill for mulching.
Today it is just a matter of recycling an evergreen.
But for every change comes a first step.
We encourage Bradley County families who are bidding farewell to their Christmas trees to take it.