A Chipping of the Green
by By RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Dec 23, 2013 | 1273 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Banner photo, DONNA KAYLOR
CHIPPING OF THE GREEN will kick off Thursday as Cleveland and Bradley County families are encouraged to recycle their live Christmas trees. Announcing this year’s initiative, which runs through Jan. 11, are, from left, Gloria Hayes, administrative assistant at the Bradley County Road Department; Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis; and Cheryl Dunson, vice president of marketing for Santek Waste Services.
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As soon as Thursday, households in Cleveland and Bradley County will begin saying goodbye to a beloved old friend whose seasonal cheer has brightened living rooms since Thanksgiving.

Behind melancholy sighs, yet with smiles of new memories made, families will begin taking down their Christmas trees. Some will embrace the Yuletide a few days longer. Others will stretch it into New Year’s and beyond. But in the end, all probably will come down as a hometown welcomes 2014 and kisses her potential with a sweet hello.

As an alternative to merely tossing the mystical evergreen to the curb, three Bradley County partners again are launching the annual Chipping of the Green Christmas tree recycling program.

In its own rendition of “A Clockwork Green,” the popular initiative gets underway Thursday and will continue through Jan. 11 at the Bradley County Landfill, according to Cheryl Dunson, vice president of marketing for Santek Waste Services.

The local contractor, which operates the landfill on behalf of Bradley County government, is partnering — as it has for years — with the Bradley County Mayor’s Office and the Bradley County Road Department to bring the environmentally friendly initiative to local residents.

It’s a simple program that benefits just about everyone it touches. It saves the landfill. It creates some of nature’s most aromatic mulch which is given away — free — to anyone who wants it. And in a symbolic sense, it’s a fitting sendoff for hundreds — in a perfect world thousands — of Christmas trees whose twinkling lights and brightly colored ornaments have brought a year-ending cheer to families whose loving hands gave them breath.

In the words of a Santek news release, “Begin the new year on environmentally sound ground and turn old Christmas trees into reusable mulch.”

But hoped participation by Bradley County families runs even deeper to Santek, a company whose heart thumps as much to the evolving world of recycling as it does hauling off bags of garbage.

“Recycling your Christmas tree is probably the easiest product to recycle,” Dunson said. “They don’t require any advanced preparation — except for the removal of decorations — and most people throw them away at the end of the holiday season. So, instead of putting them in the trash or in a burn pile, we’re encouraging everyone to bring trees to one of our collection points and feel good about turning them into a valuable resource.”

Landfill personnel will accept trees and wreaths during regular operational hours. There, they’ll be ground into mulch that can be carried home by anyone who wants it.

All residents have to do is remove the decorations from their prize cedar, fir, pine or other evergreen, and haul it to the landfill or any of the three cycling centers.

Santek and the landfill are offering much of the manpower. The Bradley County Road Department is supplying the chipper. And the mayor’s office is urging families to take full advantage of the opportunity.

For added convenience, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the county’s recycling centers don’t have to be open for residents to drop off their trees.

“Ideally, we want everyone to visit the centers when they’re open, but we also recognize trees don’t make a great mess like other recyclable items,” Davis said. “Just drop trees outside the gate and we’ll ensure they get recycled.”

Davis also encouraged residents to take advantage of other source reduction programs at the three collection centers which accept glass, aluminum, cardboard, mixed paper and newsprint, and plastics year round. The Peerless Road Recycling Center also accepts electronics while the landfill also accepts waste oils, lead-acid batteries, white goods and tires.

Located off Pleasant Grove Road in McDonald, the Bradley County Landfill is open from 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. The Peerless Road Recycling Center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Although Chipping of the Green is a community-friendly program, its participation in past years has been limited. Local backers hope to reverse this trend as 2013 slowly yields to the promise of a new year.

Here’s another reason to participate. It’s a return on Mother Nature’s investment.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, for every Christmas tree harvested, as many as three more are planted. This helps to counteract possible greenhouse effects, produce oxygen and clean water, and the trees provide a habitat for wildlife, NCTA reports.

“Tree recycling and mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation,” the NCTA website points out. “They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in gardens.”

The Christmas tree morsels also find their way into flower beds and landscaping, and just about anywhere that the refreshing smell of evergreen is welcome and that the grounds need a little touch of winter grooming.

Although most people adore its smell, evergreen mulch is sometimes a turnoff to lots of bugs.

And that’s just another reason to chip.

Additional information about Chipping of the Green or Bradley County’s recycling efforts may be obtained by contacting Dunson at 303-7107.