It's almost time to buy the Christmas tree, string the lights and hang the wreath. But before you shop, consider these good "green ideas."
Natural or artificial tree?
Cutting down a perfectly-shaped Christmas tree to deck out for two weeks and then send to the trash heap sounds like an insult to Mother Nature. Isn't it logical that using the same artificial tree year in and year out saves trees, keeps debris out of the landfill and is the best way to "go green?" Compelling logic, but there's more to the story.
Good reasons to go natural with your holiday tree:
• An artificial tree must be used for 20 years to have a lower carbon footprint than a natural tree.
• Grown trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide the entire time they are growing.
• One acre of Christmas trees on a farm produces enough oxygen to support 18 people.
• Trees grown on Christmas tree farms are grown sustainably - for every tree cut down, two to three more seedlings are planted.
• Natural trees are recycled by most cities, so they don't have to end up in the landfill. They are ground into mulch for hiking trails, gardens and other purposes.
How to select and care for your tree:
• Check for freshness by pinching a needle. A rich fragrance is the sign of a fresh tree.
• Remove a needle and bend it. If it snaps like a carrot, the tree is fresh.
Before putting the tree in a stand, cut off an inch at the base so the tree will absorb water. For large trees, the stand should hold at least one gallon of water, and it will need to be refilled regularly to keep the tree fresh.
Sustainable lighting works indoors and out.
LED lights offer benefits in terms of safety, sustainability and value whether used indoors or outdoors. This year might be the one to start replacing old burned out strands with LEDs. Here's why:
• Safety: LED lights do not get hot like conventional lights to create a fire hazard or scorch plants.
• Fewer outlets required: You can literally string 120 strands of LEDS end-to-end and plug the whole line into one extension cord connected to one power outlet.
• Less power: LEDs use about 75 percent less power than conventional holiday lights.
• Longer life: LEDs last 4-5 times longer than conventional lights.
• Sustainable facts: You will pay a little more up front, but the cost will be recovered in lower energy costs and fewer replacements. You'll also be using less total material over a longer time frame.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.