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.
• Enjoying homegrown trees may cut down on the artificial tree imported to the U. S. (Over 8.9 million in 2008.)
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 holidayleds.com.
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 livingchristmastrees.org a site that can also send you to living tree providers in other locations, in San Diego, adoptachristmastree.com, and in San Francisco, sfenvironment.org/greenchristmas. What could be greener than a gift for Mother Earth?