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Christmas trees to be transformed into mulch
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A truck driven by a Martinsville Public Works employee dumps a load of Christmas trees Monday at the collection site at the City Annex. Crews are collecting trees in Martinsville and accepting trees from county residents. The trees will be turned into mulch that will be used by Gateway Streetscape in its local landscaping projects. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Dried-out, withered guests are already overstaying their welcomes in area homes this holiday season.

No, not the extended family. Christmas trees. The solution to both problems, however, may be the same: Kick them to the curb.

According to Martinsville Public Works Director Jeff Joyce, city residents who wish to recycle their Christmas trees may set the trees on their curb where garbage cans are normally placed on their regularly scheduled garbage collection day.

The tree pick-up program began Thursday and will continue through Jan. 17, Joyce said. After the 17th, Martinsville residents can call the city’s bulk pick-up program at 403-5419 to schedule a tree pick-up.

“Be sure to get all the Christmas ornaments and trimmings off the tree,” Joyce said. “We don’t need anything plastic — nothing but the tree itself.”

Joyce said city and county residents also may drop trees off at the recycling site at the City Annex at 300 Clearview Drive.

In late January or early February, Joyce said, Roy Prillaman, who is manager of the Martinsville Prison Farm, will gather several inmates, borrow a brush grinder from Henry County, and convert all of the collected trees into mulch to be used by Gateway Streetscape Foundation.

Lizz Stanley, Gateway’s executive director, said recycling Christmas trees is good for the environment, the local economy and the beautification of the area.

“When people recycle Christmas trees,” Stanley said, “it helps Gateway, because we end up with mulch to do things in the city and county.”

There are about 120 sites in the city and county that Gateway maintains, Stanley said. It plants flowers and trees along roadsides and in median strips to help make the area more appealing to residents and visitors alike.

With that many sites, mulch is a must, as it holds moisture and also helps keep the number of weeds down, she said.

That mulch comes not only from recycled Christmas trees, Stanley said, but also from Martinsville’s brush collection program and donations from independent tree services. Without all three parts of the puzzle, Gateway would run out of mulch before the end of each year, she said.

However, according to Stanley, the importance of recycling Christmas trees goes deeper than just helping Gateway.

“Here’s the difference it makes,” she said. “Every time we take landscape waste to a (waste disposal) transfer station, it costs us just shy of $59 a ton to drive it to Roxboro, N.C.”

Roxboro, she said, has a landfill to which the bulk of Martinsville and Henry County’s waste is transferred.

“It’s money that’s going out of our area that could be better spent on other services,” Stanley said. “I’m a big proponent of recycling as much as we can. It’s not only what we should do, it’s what we must do for the planet and future generations.”


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