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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas tree’

Nelson Harvey is the other person behind Wild Green Yonder, one of my absolute favorite green blogs. Nelson surprised me on Christmas Day with an offer to guest post on La Marguerite. In his own words, Nelson ‘is particularly interested in finding new psychological and economic approaches to achieving sustainability.’ When not blogging, Nelson is a student at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, focusing on environmental studies and writing. He is the co-author of Greening The Urban Campus, a sustainability assessment of NYU. He is also a former employee of the NYU Recycling Shop, a member of NYU’s Green Action Plan Task Force, and an aspiring drummer, looking for connections between natural and human rhythms. So here is a new post in the BlogAct series:

I’ve been pretty down on Christmas lately. I’ve seen exhausted fathers on the subway toting massive boxes full of the latest must-have plastic toy. I’ve heard my own younger siblings pester my parents about the loot that they expect. And I’ve heard 3560 versions of the song “Jingle Bell Rock” on the radio.Why, then, did I catch myself glancing at the clock at 11 pm on Christmas Eve and counting the hours until morning? As a child, I would lie awake on that night and dream of tearing wrapping paper, hoping that my parents had gotten me the things I’d asked for. These days, I often find myself wishing for less stuff, not more, so my anticipation seemed strange.

Second Thoughts on Christmas

What was it that had me watching the clock? Everything about Christmas morning, except the stuff. I love sitting in the living room with my family, making breakfast, and seeing people happy about what they’re getting or giving. I look forward to these things, even though a central part of Christmas –getting heaps of stuff– has lost some of its luster for me.

As I see it, re-conceiving Christmas requires the same approach as dealing with environmental issues like global warming. It’s less about changing the things we desire than it is about finding out what those things really are, then discovering more environmentally sensitive ways to obtain them. Renewable energy technologies can satisfy our basic needs (heat, light, etc) with a fraction of the impact of fossil fuels.

We need a parallel solution for our higher order needs, like satisfaction, belonging and community. When we open gifts on Christmas morning, I think it is these things, rather than more stuff, that we really hope to find.

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Barely recovered from the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday mania, I am being asked to step right into Christmas mode. There is no avoiding the ads, the Christmas aisle at the drugstore, the daily mentions of preparations in the paper, and the creeping frenzy that I feel in my surroundings.

Real vs. Fake, Which Tree is Greener?‘ Not only do I have to get a Christmas tree, but beforehand I am to do some research and read a whole page article. Nothing is ever simple anymore. Just reading about the pros and cons of each options was enough to give me a headache:

  1. The new fake tree. It looks so real, you won’t even notice the difference. Some even have a fake smell to imitate the real thing. The stuff will last you for years. Imagine, no more trip to the tree farm every year. No more loading the monster on the top of your car. No more mess of pine needles throughout your house. No more watering. Done, you are set. And why worry about how to dispose of it? By the time you are done with it, it will be years, and hopefully by then, we will have figured out how to dispose of plastics without taxing the Earth too much. Still, there is the environmental cost of producing yet another man made plastic object.
  2. The used fake tree. There are tons of those floating around. You are not generating new plastics. This is a very reasonable option. I can’t help but wonder about the life of those trees prior to being recirculated. Did they witness happy Christmases? Who were their prior owners? How come they got ditched?
  3. The real tree. If you are like me, and can’t stand the idea of a plastic tree, go ahead, indulge yourself and your family, and don’t change a thing to your tradition. Gather your whole crew into the biggest car you own, and set out to your usual spot. Go to a tree farm to cut down your own, or just visit the nearby lot with already cut trees. It’s so much fun trying to pick the perfect tree, not too crooked, not too tall, not too short. Will it fit? We never made it as far as the tree farm, always went to the same lot close to our house. If you are environmentally correct, this is something to think about. How much gas will you use to drive to the tree farm?
  4. The live tree. Forget all that cutting and buying a fake. Instead go to the nursery, and buy a potted tree that you can reuse every year. You can bring it inside for Christmas, otherwise keep it in your yard. Of course, this is not an option for people without a yard. Nothing wrong with that option, that I can think of.

Last year, Prad and I opted for a live tree, and we will be bringing it back into the house next week. The nursery did not have a suitable pine tree, so we ended up with a holly tree instead. I kind of liked the idea of branching out, of not getting the same boring old pine. The children were disappointed. Yesterday, Catherine asked about the Christmas tree. When were we going to get one? I reminded her about the holly tree. She stormed down to her room. ‘Getting a real pine tree, that’s what Christmas is about

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