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Christmas Tree Recycling in Hampton Roads

Posted on December 9, 2016 by | Comments (0)

Christmas-Tree-Disposal-Recycling-Drop-Off-SlideA naturally grown wreath or Christmas tree is the perfect backdrop for the holiday season. Sadly, your fresh pine decor doesn’t stay fresh forever. When the needles start browning and dropping,  give some thought into how you will get rid of your naturally-grown decor. There are many easy ways you can reuse your natural decorations. Your  pine decor can be used to “spruce” up your yard (pun intended) with borders and mulch, or become a piece of backyard habitat for wintering birds and cuddly critters. If you prefer an easy alternative, simply find out how and when your city or county will accept Christmas trees for collection. In most cases, naturally-grown Christmas trees and wreaths collected by your locality are mulched or composted to reduce landfill contributions. The mulch or compost material created from the trees is a low cost way for your city or county to maintain parks and shared green spaces right in your community. Some localities are even able to sell excess mulch or compost back to the public. Talk about buying local…your spring mulch could be made from your Christmas tree!

But before you send off your Christmas tree or wreath, remember to remove all lights, tree stands and decorations including tinsel, ornaments and wires. Painted trees or those that are flocked (aka covered in fake snow) can’t be recycled either. Only the natural parts of your trees and wreaths can be accepted for mulching and composting.

And don’t forget! Christmas lights and most decorations do NOT belong in your curbside recycling container. Consider donating unwanted but working ornaments and decorations to a local school or secondhand store instead. For a complete list of materials you should be recycling at home this holiday season, you can review this handy holiday recycling guide.

So now that you know its time to make sure all of our holiday waste ends up in the proper place this year! Happy Holidays from!

As of this date, the following cities and counties have announced their natural Christmas tree recycling/pick-up schedules.

Chesapeake | Gloucester | Hampton | Isle of Wight | James City County | Newport NewsNorfolk | Poquoson | Portsmouth | Smithfield | Suffolk | Surry County | Virginia BeachWilliamsburg | York County



When: Dec. 27–Jan. 13

Where: Trees will be picked up on the regular trash collection day. Trees placed at the curb between January 3 and 13 will be recycled.

What to know: Remove all ornaments, tinsel and the stand. Place it separately from bulk waste and regular trash so it can be easily collected. Please do not put in a bag or put netting around it.



When: Ongoing

Where: Residents may place Christmas trees in the brush container at any Gloucester County Convenience Center during regular hours. See the list below for locations. 

  • Middle Peninsula Landfill and Recycling Center – 3714 Waste Management Way (Entrance on Route 17). The Convenience Center at the Landfill operates on the same schedule as the other County Convenience Centers: Monday – Friday 8 AM to 7 PM and Saturday 7 AM to 7 PM.
  • Belroi – 5122 Hickory Ford Road
  • Dutton – 10430 Burke’s Pond Road
  • Court House – 6550 Beehive Drive
  • Hayes – 7599 Guinea Road

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched along with other yard debris. Mulch is provided free of charge to county residents from the main landfill location. However, residents are strongly encouraged to call ahead to ensure mulch is available for pickup.   



When: Ongoing

Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 N. Park Lane (off Big Bethel Road at entrance to Bethel Landfill) from 8 AM to 3 PM. Monday – Saturday (closed city holidays).

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.


Isle of Wight

When: Ongoing

Where: Natural Christmas trees can be recycled at any of Isle of Wight’s Refuse & Recycling Centers.

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be composted.


James City County

Information coming soon


Newport News

When: Ongoing

Where: Natural trees are recyclable as regular brush, and may be placed on the curb as brush collection.

What to know: Please remove the root ball and any non-natural decorations including tinsel and lights. Place tree in a brush pile separate from any bulk being set out. Christmas trees (live or artificial) may also be brought to the Recovery Operations Center located at 550 Atkinson Way. Trees will be composted or mulched.



When: Ongoing

Where: Natural trees are collected for composting on regular trash day as part of Norfolk’s yard waste collection service. In addition, residents can bring natural trees, holiday lights and artificial trees to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center – 1176 Pineridge Road, Monday through Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM. Artificial trees may also be scheduled for bulk waste collection by calling the Norfolk Cares IMPACT Center at (757) 664-6510, or by completing a request online at

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.


Information coming soon



Information coming soon



When: Through Jan. 12

Where: Curbside

What to know: You must contact Kathy Bew-Jones at 365-4200 or and provide your address if you have a Christmas tree to be picked up. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights. Trees will be composted.



Information coming soon

Surry County

When: Jan. 1-Jan. 31

Where: Surry County Collection Centers (listed below)

  • Goodson Path Solid Waste Station – 409 Goodson Path, Dendron
  • Pineview Solid Waste Station – 101 Pineview Road, Waverly
  • Mantura Road Solid Waste Station – 60 Mantura Road, Surry

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Please ask attendants for assistance to ensure that your tree is placed in the designated container.


Virginia Beach

When: Normal trash collection day

Where: Curbside or the Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center at 1989 Jake Sears Road with proof of residency.

What to know: Christmas trees will be handled as normal yard debris and need to be free of any decorations or tinsel. All trees and yard debris will be mulched.



When: Jan. 3 and Jan. 9

Where: Curbside

What to know: The City Crews will be collecting Christmas trees on Tuesday, January 3 and Monday, January 9. Trees must be placed at the curb before 7 AM and should be free of the stand, ornaments and lights. Please place separately from bulk waste and regular trash. Trees will be mulched.


York County

When: Jan. 2-Jan. 6

Where: Curbside – tree must be at curb by 7 AM on January 4 for collection that week

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, lights and should be no bigger than six feet in length. For all York County residents, including non-subscribers, Christmas trees are accepted throughout January at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM. York County residents who subscribe to the trash program may bring yard waste to the VPPSA Compost Facility year-round.

Posted in: Holidays, Reduce reuse and recycle

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An Energy Efficient Makeover for Your Fireplace

Posted on December 5, 2016 by | Comments (0)

fireplaceIf you have tried to supplement your home’s heating system by building a roaring fire in an open masonry fireplace, you might have been doing more harm than good. About 70 to 90 percent of heat energy in the wood you burned disappeared up the chimney. To keep burning, the fire consumed the oxygen in the room—the air that was heated by your furnace or boiler. Plus, the smoke that spilled from your chimney contained noxious gases and particulates that contribute to air pollution.

Fireplace Inserts

Inserts are sealed fireboxes that fit into the opening of your fireplace, usually with glass fronts so that you can watch the flames. They convert 75 to 85 percent of the fuel they consume into heat. They can burn wood like a traditional fireplace, but gas and electrical inserts are also available. Some are purely decorative, but others can provide a significant amount of heat. Products list their heat output in British Thermal Units (Btu). As a general rule, the Department of Energy says that an insert rated at 60,000 Btu can heat a 2,000-square foot home; one rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300-square foot space.

  • Wood-Burning Inserts. These are the closest inserts to the traditional fireplace experience. They burn cleaner than traditional fireplaces, thanks to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations passed in 2015 that restrict particle emissions to 4.5 grams per hour. Good units have a blower fan that heats room air and recirculates it back into the room. Installation may require a new flue liner that runs from the insert to the top of the chimney.
  •  Gas-Burning Inserts. These are the most popular types of inserts. They are powered by natural gas or propane, so you will need a gas line in the fireplace. Most models work with remotes for easy start up, and you can adjust the height of the flames. Gas inserts have non-burning ceramic logs to give the impression of a roaring fire. Traditional gas inserts are vented through the masonry chimney, but direct-vent models are also available. In this type, a vent pipe goes out the back of the unit and directly through a wall. This eliminates the need for a traditional masonry chimney.
  • Pellet Inserts. These are fueled by pellets made from compressed wood waste and other materials. The pellets are placed into a hopper and then automatically fed into the fire. As with wood-burning inserts, pellet inserts are certified by the EPA for emission control.
  • Electric Inserts. These are mainly used for decorative purposes. Some produce heat, but heating with electricity is an expensive option.

If you’re concerned about conserving energy and lowering your home’s energy bill, you may want to consider a fireplace insert in place of the traditional option. It’s an environmentally-friendly way to add warmth or style to your home during the winter months.

Fran Donegan writes on home heating topics for The Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY writer, and is the author of the book Paint Your Home

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips

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5 Ways to a Greener Holiday Season

Posted on November 30, 2016 by | Comments Off

christmas-734866_960_720For many Americans reducing, reusing, and recycling is as far from their thoughts as starting a holiday diet. With very little effort and a few tips you can trim down your holiday waste.

  1. Reusable Bags - Don’t have one of those fancy store bought totes? No worries! Grab any reusable bag, even that beach tote you retired for the winter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. So as you can see, any bag is better than a plastic bag!
  2. Recycle While You Cook - Make food prep a snap by keeping a recycling bin nearby. Recycling while you cook is easier than you think. Tin and steel cans, clean aluminum foil and pie pans, glass bottles and jars, cardboard, clean mixed paper and in some cities you can now recycle cartons too. Not sure what is accepted? Check out your city’s waste management website.
  3. Dust Off the Fine China - Pull out grandma’s china and linens and treat your guest to a holiday meal that they will remember. Using what you have or even borrowing items eliminates disposable plates, drinkware, utensils, and napkins from going into the landfill.
  4. Grab a Growler - It’s no secret that Hampton Roads has amazing breweries as well as growler filling stations available. Opting for growlers over bottles and cans will aid you in your quest to be greener this holiday. Growlers reduce the need to buy cans and bottles and can be repurposed to hold other refreshments such as water and sweet tea.
  5. BYOC - Inviting guests? Have plans to be a guest? BYOC, otherwise known as “Bring Your Own Container”, to reduce your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly by preventing the use of plastic storage containers, plastic wrap, and other single use plastics this holiday season.

With a little pre-planning and consideration for doing the right thing you can make small changes that produce big results.

Guest blog contributed by Kristi Rines, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Virginia Beach.

Posted in: Beautification, Going Green, Holidays, Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Getting My Feet Wet – The International Coastal Cleanup

Posted on November 29, 2016 by | Comments Off

TWayne Joneshe City of Suffolk, for the first time, took part in the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy.  In Virginia this initiative is coordinated locally through Clean Virginia Waterways based at Longwood University.  The initiative is designed to raise awareness about and reduce ocean marine debris.  However, it’s more than just a traditional cleanup.  It is an effort to understand what type of debris and how much is getting into our waterways.  To understand it, a survey must be taken to find out how many tires, plastic bottles and kitchen sinks etc. are found within the area surveyed.  This makes this initiative more complicated than your traditional cleanup.  As Litter Control Coordinator for the city and veteran Clean the Bay Day Captain I knew that conducting a debris survey of the downtown section of the Nansemond River shoreline in kayaks and canoes would be challenging.  Not challenging because it’s mentally complicated, but practically, as it’s not easy cleaning out the wetlands, reaching for plastic bottles, completing a survey whilst trying not to drift or drop something. 

So being our first year, and as a seasoned kayaker, I knew it would be literally a juggling act and so I wanted to “get my feet wet” before we really promoted it and recruited volunteers.  I registered our cleanup with Clean Virginia Waterways, but I kept it exclusive to people I knew with the goal of getting feedback so that next year when we roll it out to the public it would run smoothly and give us a good foundation to build on year-on-year.  As an experienced volunteer coordinator it’s essential that an event runs smoothly and is well-organized.  Nothing frustrates a person donating their time more than a poorly organized and executed event. 

Debris CollectedSo what did we learn from our 3 hour pilot effort on a beautiful Saturday morning in October?  To do this in canoes and kayaks it takes two people.  One person has the litter grabbers and one person with the pencil and clipboard to record the data.  I had originally thought that we would do the cleanup and then do the survey by emptying the bags and recording all the debris using the app developed by Ocean Conservancy.  However, it quickly became apparent by the rate of bags we were filling that this method would be extremely time consuming and, in addition, I realized there was a lot of larger items we had to leave behind, but needed to include in the survey.  The largest of these items was an ice refrigerator like the ones you find outside any gas station.  I suspect this came from the gas station washed out by Hurricane Mathew the week before and then marooned in the wetlands.

David KeelingHaving the right equipment is also important.  I purchased four sets of six feet long litter grabbers and tested them out during this cleanup and they are great at reaching into the wetlands and grabbing plastic bottles and other types of consumer packaging.  I would highly recommend these for this type of a cleanup.  It’s also important to have a larger canoe or small boat to go between teams offloading the collected debris, providing supplies and dropping the debris at the collection point.      

I’m thankful for having done a test run before actively recruiting volunteers next year.  It’s a fun and an educational experience as well as rewarding to be part of an international effort to collect data and contribute to a global picture of what type of debris is finding its way into our oceans.  With quantitative data, governments, businesses, non-profits, individuals etc. can begin to address the problem and work towards solutions and hopefully we will see a downward trend in marine debris. 

One of the highlights for me was meeting a guy named Bill Farrell.  Bill was enjoying a morning stroll by the river as we were in the middle of the cleanup.  He shouted out to me “thanks for doing this, I have a kayak, how can I get involved?” so I told him I’m the Litter Control Coordinator in Public Works.  Monday morning when I was back in the office he called me and gave me his details and said his wife would like to help as well.  I never expected to be recruiting for next year so soon but I’m looking forward to it and making this an annual Suffolk event which will be fun and educational for all. 

For more information about Clean Virginia Waterways and the International Coastal Cleanup

So what did we find?

Items Found

Number of Each Item Found

Plastic Bottles


Aluminum Cans


Glass Bottles


Styrofoam Cups / Food containers


Plastic Bags




Wooden Planks


Yard Signs


Oil Cartons


Traffic Cones






Ice Refrigerator


House Insulation


Tool Box


Trash Can Lid inscribed “Please Don’t Litter”


Guest blog contributed by Wayne Jones, Litter Control Coordinator with the City of Suffolk.

Posted in: Community events, Don't litter!, Keeping storm drains free, Waterways

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Gifts That Keep On Giving

Posted on November 17, 2016 by | Comments Off

Green Holiday WrappingAs hard as it is to believe, Thanksgiving is just one week away and that means we have a month to go until the “gift-givingist” time of the year. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to get the right presents for all those special people in your life. There’s also still time for you to put a plan together for how you can give responsibly this year.

Show someone you care by purchasing memberships or event tickets to give someone an experience instead of something that may just end up sitting on a shelf or in a closet. If you are shopping for someone who has it all or just really doesn’t need anything, consider making a donation to a charitable organization in their name. Shop small and local with businesses and artisans/entrepreneurs to support our local economy with your holiday spending instead of sending your hard-earned money elsewhere. Seek out companies with Fair Trade CertifiedTM products to let your loved one know that their gift is helping to ensure healthy, safe working conditions and improving communities the world over. And finally, think about supporting companies that give back, like Toms or Warby Parker, by donating products to someone in need for every product they sell. 

Get creative and show someone you care in a special way this holiday season. There are plenty of ways to give a gift that gives back in some way, shape or form. Happy shopping and happy holidays from the team! 

Posted in: Going Green, Holidays

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