By Joel Hall
Clayton and Henry counties are doing their part to make sure live Christmas trees end up as yard mulch, rather than unsightly curbside waste, by participating in Georgia's "Bring One for the Chipper" program.
From now throughout the beginning of the January, people statewide will be able to dump their unwanted trees at local Home Depot stores, as well as several other locations. Those who leave trees will be given a dogwood tree seedling in return.
The drop-off sites in Clayton County are: the Clayton County Recycling Center at 1430 Spur 138 in Jonesboro; Dixie Land Recycling Center on Highway 42 in Ellenwood; Tara Stadium on Battlecreek Road in Jonesboro; Suder Elementary on Jodeco Road in Jonesboro; Kemp Elementary on Folsom Road in Hampton; Riverdale Middle School on Roberts Drive in Riverdale, and any Home Depot store in the county.
On Jan. 5, from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., Keep Clayton County Beautiful will distribute dogwood trees to people at the Clayton County Recycling Center, Dixie Land Recycling Center, and the Home Depot locations in Morrow, Riverdale, Lovejoy, and in Atlanta on Jonesboro Road, just north of Forest Park.
In Henry County, used Christmas trees will be accepted at the Henry County Recycling Center -- located at 65 West Asbury Road in McDonough -- as well as any Home Depot store in the county. On Jan. 5, the Henry County Recycling Center will distribute 6,000 tree seedlings to people until supplies run out.
Edie Yongue, director of Keep Clayton County Beautiful, said the program started over ten years ago, when new state laws dictated that trees and other yard wastes could not be thrown into regular landfills.
"Before we started the recycling program, there were a lot more [trees] that you saw on the side of the road," said Yongue. She said that, with the program, citizens "will be responsible about where they take it."
Yongue noted that another positive aspect of giving people a place to dispose of their old trees is that dead, dry trees are an extreme fire hazard.
"It's like kindling," said Yongue. "It makes a huge bonfire ... not good in a house."
James Hamm, director of Keep Henry County Beautiful, views the program as a way to give back to the environment.
"We try to encourage as much planting and composting as we can," said Hamm. "If you are taking something away, you should be giving something back."
Ram Krishnamurthy, store manager of the Jonesboro Road Home Depot, said, since Home Depot is the nation's largest seller of live Christmas trees, encouraging people to bring back their old trees is a situation in which "everyone wins."
"Recycling in any shape and form is good," said Krishnamurthy. "We harvest a lot of trees to sell to customers, so recycling is going right back to them."