Recycling is more than just carefully sorting bottles and cans or returning plastic bags to the store. It’s also about turning waste into something valuable. Lakeland is doing just that with its practice of tree and branch disposal.
Martin Perez, Lakeland’s public works supervisor since late June, said he believes in fully using resources. The city puts any trimmed branches through a chipper. Then those bits and any collected leaves go into a mulch pile, which can be given to Lakeland citizens upon request for their personal use or it can be used in municipal projects.
A recent Keep Lakeland Beautiful project used the mulch in city flowerbeds that incurred very little cost except for the flowers themselves.
Public works employees also remove larger trees, such as dead or diseased ones cleared from I.H. Park or others that are in the way of trails, and they saw and stack the logs for firewood. The in-house work allows the city to save the cost of sub-contracting the work, and firewood is useful during tight economic times.
Much of the reclaimed wood is white oak, a slow-growing hardwood. Grant funding allows Lakeland to replant healthy new trees as well.
Perez said he quickly learned to cut the logs into 12-inch lengths that aren’t practical for sale so that entrepreneurial sorts in the city don’t help themselves to the firewood by the truckload.
“Take what you need, and need what you take,” he said.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.