Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree...

Just like other controversial topics, the debate on real vs fake Christmas trees is no different. I have read many articles in favor of both real Christmas trees and fake trees. But I can’t help but wonder why the pendulum is swinging so extremely.

A few of years ago, if not a bit longer, the trend was in favor of purchasing fake trees to save the billions of live ones from being harvested and then discarded like yesterday’s trash. We were told that we were killing forests, and natural habitats, and that our desire for a Christmas tree was destructive and selfish. Pleas to the consumer to make this transition from real to fake were targeted right at our “emotional jugulars.” So, a large percentage of consumers listened (although they had many other reasons for purchasing, such as the convenience of never having to string lights on a tree again) resulting in the popularity of the fake tree.

Now, we are being persuaded to go out and once again buy those wonderful smelling once live trees. We are told that buying a real tree is “eco friendly” and better for the environment. That these fake trees are bad - constructed from harmful PVCs (which is what a lot of our plastic bottles are made from, but we still drink from them!), made in harmful factory conditions in China, and only ultimately end up in our land fills - never to be recycled or decomposed. Again our “emotional jugulars” are being attached with the fear that we are breaking toxic air, or our houses will burn down from our fake trees catching fire.

For me, I have always been in favor of real Christmas Trees. Not for the reasons of whether or not it was better for the environment, but for the traditions that came with picking out a purchasing a real tree, for the bonding that took place when the entire family went out in search of it, for the smells that filled my house once that tree entered. Those are my reasons for why I had always chose real vs fake. But recently, I inherited a fake tree and decided to put it up this year. It wasn’t so bad, it’s still a beautiful tree decorating my home with the Christmas spirit. Which poses this question to me: What would these tree advocates have me do? They tell us continuously that real is better and that fake is toxic and only goes into the land fills. So, do I continue to use this fake tree I have acquired, contaminating my air and raising the potential for fire (which I don’t quite believe...) in my home? Or do I throw it away before it’s use is spent, putting it in a landfill somewhere - to go back to purchasing real trees? These advocates have caused quite the dilemma for us consumers - we are doomed if we do, and doomed if we don’t.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just Broken Glass or Something Else?

I know there has been a lot of blogs about great Christmas gift ideas, but I could not resist blogging about this really cool website I found, bottled up designs.

This woman, Laura Bergman, has found a way to take broken glass that she finds and transforming it into jewelry, and for this time of year Christmas ornaments. With each piece she also includes "The Story of the Glass." Which tells the purchaser what the glass originally was (i.e. beer bottles, mason jar, antique clorox bottles ext.) and the age of the glass.
So I urge you to take a look. The prices are not that bad, and you are buying items that are made from glass that would not have been able to be recycled any other way, not to mention they are really pretty.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Green up your Holiday Parties

Christmas time is just around the corner and I am sure many businesses are getting ready for there annual holiday parties. Courtesy of, here are some wonderful ideas on how to make your party eco-friendly:

1. Send Virtual Invites - You can save on paper by sending email invites. There are also certain websites that can help you manage your guest list, that will make it easy to see who has RSVP so that you are not buying too much food.

2. Buy By the Bunch - When you buy in bulk it saves on packaging and it makes it easier to clean up.

3. Light it up With LEDs - These lights are more energy efficient and you can now get different kinds of Christmas lights that are made from LEDs. If you like lighting candles instead try and make sure that they are made from non-petroleum products such as soy or beeswax.

4. Paper or Plastic? - Use reusable dishes instead of plasticware. You would not only be saving on the cost, but mose of the plasticware isn't recyclable. I know it would be more work, due to the fact that you would have to clean the dishes, but its better to save the environment and save money.

5. Post-Consumer Goodies - If you do however purchase paper products, try and make sure they contain the highest percentage of recycled content as possible.

6. Favorable Favors - Try and give environmentally responsible gifts and favors at your party or you can even make a donation to your favorite charity in honor of your guests.

7. Truly Evergreen - What would a Christmas party be without wreaths or a Christmas tree. Try when you are done with this festive items to recycle them, you can usually use a seasonal curbside recycling porgram or find a treecyling event.

8. The Morning After - Cleaning up after a party is always a downer, but since it has to be done you should make it worth everyones time and efort. You can recycle any bottles or cans that were used. Also if you have a ton of leftovers you can donate them to a food bank or a shelter. And remember to use biodegradable cleaning products.

Holiday parties are always fun and exciteing, but they can also be rewarding if you follow a few of these simple tips.