Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orange to Green Decor- Seasonal Sense

As I watched the progress of hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico, it was difficult to believe it was the middle of November. My mandevilla vine is still blooming on the lamp post, the hanging baskets and potted begonias blaze with pink, red, and white blossoms. But when the remnants of Ida arrived at our cabin in North Carolina 48 hours ago, bringing chilly winds and over six inches of rain, the remaining leaves abandoned our trees in frantic swarms and the flowers ducked their heads in fear. We built daily fires and finally accepted the date on our calendar. Jack-o-lanterns--gone. Ghosts and witches--packed. Turkey and pilgrims--out of storage. While shoppers are already assaulted by the Ho Ho Ho of the next holiday.

I’ve accepted the nasty weather heralding the change, but poor Mr. GP. The constant pounding of rain reactivated his PTSD. To ease him out of the memory of being slam-dunked in the raging creek, I bundled him up and walked him with my dog, Itchy, on the soggy, but safe and soft forest path. At first Itchy's sniffing and leg lifting unnerved Mr. GP who kept retreating to the safety of rocks and crevices, but as I began to comment on which evergreen trees might one day serve as Christmas trees, Mr. GP slid into a comfortable gardening discussion. And so began the distraction of holiday planning .

I often brag about NC Christmas trees. NC Fraser Firs are the most beautiful I’ve ever had in my home. In fact, North Carolina has provided The White House with a Fraser Christmas tree eleven times. More than any other state. But I was saddened to read in the December 2009 O magazine that 5.8 pounds of pesticides are sprayed on an acre of Christmas trees each year in our state. But perhaps you can find an organically grown tree near you by searching

Organic or not, there are still reasons a live tree is a better decision than an artificial one (beyond the obvious joy of the festive scent). As reported by Nina Shen Rastogi in O magazine:

• A typical artificial plastic tree contains 7.3 pounds of PVC. According to Green Living Tips the production of PVC produces dioxin, a poison that stays in the body, substances called phthalates are added to PVC that may cause cancer, kidney and reproductive system damage.

• It takes 20 years of reuse before an artificial tree has a lower carbon footprint than a real tree.

• Enjoying homegrown trees may cut down on the artificial tree imported to the U. S. (Over 8.9 million in 2008.)

• Your natural tree can be recycled for compost and wood chips. Or even used as fish habitat in lakes and ponds. Visit to find a tree recycling center near you.

If you celebrate the December holiday season with a tree of any kind, switch from incandescent tree lights to longer-lasting LEDs and you use close to 90 percent less energy. Nearly 600,000 U. S. homes could be powered for a year with the energy decorative lights use every holiday season. A simple switch could make a difference. Until the end of February, 2010 see how you can recycle your old holiday lights at

A growing trend that provides the best green for your bucks is a kind of rent-a-tree program. If you're fortunate, you can enjoy a holiday tree and then allow it to continue caring for the Earth by absorbing 1 ton of carbon over 60 years. Here's how to learn more: In Portland, OR visit a site that can also send you to living tree providers in other locations, in San Diego,, and in San Francisco, What could be greener than a gift for Mother Earth?