It’s that time of year again, Christmas Day, when the Retailers’/Merchants’ 12 days of Christmas is over and the rest of us can now begin celebrating the real twelve days of Christmas (they really do begin today)!
In 2011 I began my “Twelve Days of a Green Christmas” as an entertaining way of sharing ideas for energy-efficiency and sustainability. Not only do I want to share some money-saving ideas, my hopes are for you to learn something new about reducing your energy usage and saving money. So if you are ready to join me in my 7th year of a Green Christmas just hum the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas tune and get ready to sing each verse as we progress through the twelve days!
Contrary to what Retailers want you to believe the twelve days of Christmas begins on Christmas Day (the 25th) and ends on the fifth day of January with the Feast of the Epiphany celebrated on the Twelfth Night or Eve of the Epiphany, according to Wikipedia. Every country has its’ traditions for celebrating the Epiphany. Here in the US, you have probably heard about preparing “Kings’ Cakes” leading up to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the “Great Fruitcake Toss” in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which ended in 2013 and the elaborate celebration with the tossing of the wooden cross into the Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs, Florida. What a lot of historic trivia, especially on Christmas Day!
So here we go with the first verse…join me in singing the first verse!
…on the first day of Christmas, my green friend gave to me….a live Christmas tree!
Although retailers would like you to believe manufactured trees are one of the greenest options for a Christmas tree because a single tree on a super-huge cargo ship coming from China will have a lower carbon footprint than commercial trucks driving down our highways delivering them. However the fact still remains that “fake” trees are made from PVC materials and will never decompose!
The next choice would be a live tree. When deciding on a live tree you have a choice between a live, cut tree or a live, planted tree. For the past 6 years I have advocated a live, planted tree but honestly my yard is not large enough to handle another live Norfolk Pine (my favorite) so I had to move on to the thought of a live, cut tree. Could my choice be good for the environment? According to the National Christmas Tree Association an acre of farmed Christmas trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe. The Association estimates over 350,000 acres of farmed trees in the US with Oregon being the largest producer and North Carolina number two so you do the math. Additionally Christmas tree farms provide wildlife habitat and prevent topsoil erosion. Top these benefits off with purchasing a live-cut tree from a local charity and you help your community. For many local charities Christmas tree sales are one of their biggest fund-raising efforts of the year. Not a bad choice by any means with many benefits.
But what if you are a real “eco-purist”? You may have decided the greenest Christmas tree is not even a traditional “Christmas” tree. Why not consider a different shape and species of tree and decorate an existing tree in your yard or a potted house plant? One of my favorite Christmas trees was a palm tree that found a home in my backyard after Christmas and still provides memories of a most enjoyable holiday! Another of my favorites was a potted rosemary bush shaped like a Christmas tree which provided me months of one of my favorite herbs for cooking. I must confess I went with another Rosemary tree this year just because of the fragrance!
So ends the first verse of the “Twelve Days of a Green Christmas”. I hope you learned something new today and may consider a different tree choice next year. Please join me tomorrow for the second day of a “green Christmas”! Merry Christmas!