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Annual event repurposes Christmas trees

POSTED: January 5, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Sara Swida/KLB/

Keep Liberty Beautiful volunteers and Georgia Power contractors line up trees to be loaded in the chipper during the 2010 event.

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Now that you’re likely putting your stockings away and the new year is here, it’s time to shift gears and think about how best to part ways with your Fraser fir.

And whether you keep your tree up through the Jan. 6 Epiphany or took it down just after exchanging presents, Keep Liberty Beautiful has a way for you to continue celebrating in green fashion: its annual “Bring One for the Chipper” recycling drive.

The group has worked in conjunction with Liberty County Solid Waste since Dec. 26 to round up dressed-down trees so they can be chipped into mulch from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Liberty County Health Department on Highway 84. They will continue collecting trees through Friday.

“Bring One for the Chipper” is part of a statewide effort that Keep Georgia Beautiful launched in 1991, according to KLB Executive Director Sara Swida. Last year, KLB and Georgia Power, which provides the chipper for the event, chipped more than 12,000 trees.

When disposing of your tree, it’s essential to make sure that all decorations have been removed, because remaining decorations can create serious problems with the wood chipper, she said.

The drive aims to reduce the loads sent to landfills, which already are inundated with organic materials, Swida said.

“About 20 percent of the stuff in landfills already is organic and could have been composted or disposed of more effectively,” she said.

KLB Chairman and Georgia Power Energy Service Representative Willie Cato said the event is another way to monitor what goes into landfills.

“A lot of times, they just get dumped in the landfill, and it takes up important space … and we’re running out of space,” he said.

Georgia Power coordinates a tree crew to complete the chipping and has staff on hand to help with the labor.

As for those who may plan to burn trees, the National Fire Protection Association online advises that dried-out trees should be disposed of through recycling, because storing dried trees poses a great fire risk. The site adds that trees should be removed from the home as soon as pine needles begin to fall off the tree to further reduce the risk.

During the chipping event, the mulch generated will be offered to local citizens for landscaping purposes, soil enhancement and erosion control.

The trees also make a great fish habitat in ponds, Swida said.

Anyone interested in using some of the trees in their ponds should contact KLB before Jan. 6.

The event also creates an opportunity to increase citizen involvement in conservation efforts with a hands-on lesson, complete with refreshments.

“It’s pretty exciting for kids to see all those trees going in there and the big, gigantic mulch pile that we get,” Swida said.

KLB and the event sponsors also give back in another way: by handing out a variety of tree seedlings as well as vegetable and flower seeds donated by Ferry-Morse Seed Company. The seedlings are distributed so they can be planted in place of each tree that is recycled to help clean and cool the air.

“Our everyday choices about what we buy and what we use and then how we dispose of items determine how much waste is accumulated,” Swida said. “Any time we can recycle or reuse items, we are saving wasted space in our landfills.”

 

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