Greening the Holidays ~ Real or Artificial, Which Shall It Be?

November 27, 2020
This 5-year-old Norfolk Pine is waiting for its 2020 Christmas decorations

With Thanksgiving done and Christmas just a month away, it is time to decorate for the holidays!  Since the pandemic has already imposed so many changes to our usual celebrations, perhaps this is a good time to review our decorating traditions and explore some ‘green’ options.

That said, it is good to remember that the first and best way to be eco-friendly is to reuse what we already have!  Unpack and unwrap those familiar and beloved ornaments!  But, if you do need to replace some, consider investing in LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs, and in items made from wood, paper or metal, instead of plastic.

If you have time and interest, make some new heirloom-worthy items to use or to share.  You might even try making tinsel out of aluminum foil, rather than purchasing the plastic version available commercially.

A Christmas tree is the big holiday focus for most of us and controversy roils as to which type is the most earth-friendly—artificial or natural.  Whichever one you choose, consider how and where it was made.

If the tree is artificial—Do you have space to store an artificial tree for several years (7-10 at least)?  Can its lights be replaced if need be?  How far was it shipped to get to you? Is it made from recycled plastic?

If the tree is natural—Was it grown locally or at least regionally?  Is it from a big commercial enterprise or a smaller sustainably managed tree farm, preferably without pesticides?  Does your town pick up trees after the holidays and reprocess them as wood chips like the Town of Bedford does, or are they sent to the incinerator along with your trash?

One Green Team member has a potted Norfolk pine that is approaching its third Christmas.  It is now about 5-ft tall, sits in a pot on a rolling stand, and has lots of lovely branches waiting for lights and ornaments!  Small holiday candies (think candy canes, snowmen, and Santas), along with LED lights, make it a favorite of visiting children.

Other live trees can be replanted outdoors in the spring.  Not a perfect solution if you want a tall tree, but one that works in many situations.

You probably have your own ideas.  The Bedford Citizen welcomes replies about this article, and the St. Paul’s Green Team would certainly love to learn from your experience!  Please send your ideas to [email protected].

Have a safe, happy, and earth-friendly holiday season!!

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