By RICK NORTON
Rock’n Roll legend Elvis Presley once recorded a holiday chart topper titled, “Why Can’t Every Day Be Just Like Christmas?”Maybe that’s the spirit to which some Cleveland and Bradley County …
Rock’n Roll legend Elvis Presley once recorded a holiday chart topper titled, “Why Can’t Every Day Be Just Like Christmas?”
Maybe that’s the spirit to which some Cleveland and Bradley County families cling whose Christmas trees still adorn their living rooms two weeks after the close of the Yuletide.
Psychologists would probably agree, “Hey, if preserving the spirit of Christmas is the end game in keeping the tree watered and the lights blinking, and if it makes you feel good, then do it.”
But, for those reluctantly dragging the empty ornament boxes back out of the closet to bring a sad farewell to the season, here’s a reminder: Chipping of the Green.
It won’t bring back the life of Christmas, but it will give new life to the Christmas tree; at least, the live evergreens. It’s done by a commercial chipper that shreds the aromatic trees into useable mulch, and it’s given away free of charge to anyone willing to haul it away.
In Cleveland, Chipping of the Green is an annual initiative that’s entering its third decade, according to Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of marketing for Santek Waste Services, the company that manages the Bradley County Landfill and whose mindset is high on recycling.
Over the years, the public’s participation in the shredding program has slowly dwindled. In 2015-16, the program witnessed a resurrection, but the 2016-17 numbers then dropped again.
“Two years ago we had phenomenal results and last year we had a marginal turnout,” Dunson said. “We never really know how residents are going to respond, but we’d rather have an event than not have one.”
That’s because — to borrow a familiar adage — “… it’s the right thing to do.”
Shredding the beautiful evergreens that bring happiness into a household — sometimes Christmas trees are erected as soon as Thanksgiving weekend, or earlier — carries a lot of advantages, Dunson pointed out. Such reasoning ranges from the sentimental to the practical.
Here are a few:
• Chipping up the Christmas tree creates life. The mulch can be used in landscaping, gardens and for other exterior purposes, most of which help to make things grow.
• Chipping up the Christmas tree keeps unwanted, and unneeded, brush out of the landfill. This, in turn, helps to extend the life of the county facility.
• Chipping up the Christmas tree brings a little dignity to the evergreen whose life span has run the emotional gamut from beloved and twinkling friend to unclothed castaway whose lot in life might otherwise become a cold and uninviting curb or ditch lying in wait for the next garbage truck.
• Chipping up the Christmas tree is not only a fitting farewell to the evergreen, but a sensible closure to the season.
• Chipping up the Christmas tree signals an end, but the act itself heralds a beginning.
• Chipping up the Christmas tree teaches children some of life’s most humanitarian lessons, among them: Respect, responsibility, closure and love.
For those whose live evergreens are still standing, it’s not too late to participate. Tree collection continues through Saturday, Jan. 13, at four locations, including:
• The Home Depot in a parking lot corral on Paul Huff Parkway: Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday (no more Sunday hours).
• Bradley County Landfill: Hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
• Urbane Road Recycling Site: Hours are 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
• Peerless Road Recycling Center: Hours are 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, who is a long-time advocate of recycling programs, urged the public’s participation; at least, by those who still have live evergreens to take down.
“Ideally, we want everyone to visit the centers when they’re open,” Davis said. “But, Christmas trees don’t make an unsightly mess like other recyclable items when they’re delivered. So, if the gates are already closed when Christmas trees are brought by, just drop them off. We’ll see that they get delivered for the chipping process.”
Dunson praised The Home Depot for partnering with Santek and the Bradley County Road department, as well as the mayor’s office, for the fourth consecutive year.
“We can’t say enough about the value of having The Home Depot parking lot corral as a collection site,” Dunson said. “It’s a central location; plus, a lot of people buy their trees from that store. It makes sense that they might want to return them to the same location for proper recycling.”
For those who use Chipping of the Green as an incentive to get further into recycling (sort of a New Year’s resolution), Dunson and Davis encouraged Cleveland and Bradley County residents to use the source-reduction programs at the collection centers.
“Year-round, all sites accept glass, aluminum, cardboard, mixed paper and newsprint,” Dunson said. “The landfill also accepts waste oils, lead-acid batteries and white goods.”
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