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5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

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Keep Your Christmas Tree Green

Many of us wonder whether we're being wasteful, buying a cut Christmas tree every year. It may seem to be more "green" to buy a live, potted tree, but the reality is that potted evergreens generally don't do well indoors in a heated home, and it's not easy to plant a live tree outdoors in late December or early January if the ground is frozen. In short, the chances of a potted tree surviving more than a few months are slim.

Nearly all Christmas trees sold in seasonal tree lots are grown on tree farms, so forests aren't hurt if you purchase a cut tree. Artificial trees consume significant energy and petroleum-based materials in their manufacture, but with care they can last many years. So feel free to choose your preference -- cut or artificial. Just be sure to make that artificial tree last through many Christmases, or to recycle that cut tree.

Many communities now offer recycling; you leave your tree curbside, and your DPW or a recycling company picks it up free of charge. Usually the trees are chipped into mulch for use in city parks, on hiking trails, in playground areas, and in public gardens. Whole trees are sometimes used in stabilization projects for river shorelines, for beach erosion prevention, marshland sedimentation, and even hazardous chemical clean-ups. If there is no recycling program in your area, prop your tree up in your backyard or in the woods, where it can serve as shelter for wildlife and can break down naturally, giving its nutrients back to the soil.

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