BRIGHTON, Mich. (WJBK) -- They start out looming large over city streets, then are hauled away on flat beds. Most urban trees, including millions killed by the Emerald Ash borer, are turned into mulch or discarded as waste.
However, Paul Hickman, the owner of Urban Ashes, has found a way to preserve them for generations.
"Street trees, yard trees, trees that grow in our parks, trees that grow on golf courses, anywhere that would be your non-traditional forestry operation," he said.
That's where he gets the raw materials for his company's handmade, hand-finished frames.
Hickman works with a tree service and a mill to get the wood from across Southeast Michigan.
"All the finishes that are used in it are petroleum free. There [are] no toxic [fumes] coming from the clear and/or the black paint that I use, which is milk paint. Through and through, I would say it's about as green a product as you're going find on the market," he explained.
The workers, who help make the frames, are part of Work Skills Corporation, which employs Michigan's transitional or disabled workforce. Hickman also goes out of his way to make sure every part of the frames are Michigan made.
"They're taking a product that's green. They're recycling it. They're using a workforce that needs the work and really benefits from getting a paycheck," said Anita Gibson.
"My main goal with the product is to be completely inclusive with the entire product and go through every single aspect of it and make it as local, green and smartly designed as possible," Hickman said.
Right now, these frames can only be purchased in Michigan, but they'll soon be sold in other states. For a complete list of retailers, visit www.urbanashes.com.
Hickman hopes to have the frames in 100 shops and boutiques by the end of the year. If he succeeds in branching out, more green jobs will follow.
KDFW FOX 4
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