John Tullock grew up on a farm in the hills of eastern Tennessee and has never lost his fascination with the natural world. He earned a master’s degree in aquatic biology from the University of Tennessee, and has been involved with aquariums, water gardens, wildlife conservation and, of course, gardening, for over forty years. His current passions include growing food and raising rare plants on his quarter acre suburban residence near Knoxville. He is the author of numerous books, the latest of which is The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living in the Country or in the City. When not gardening, writing or lecturing, he does market research and product development for a national retail trade group.

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Sustainable Holiday Decorations  

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Sustainable Holiday Decorations
by John Tullock - posted 11/29/14

Now that the turkey roaster (or deep fryer) has been put away, the tetrazzini or hash consumed, and the good dishes washed and stored, it is time to think about the Christmas season. Our neighbors have been putting up decorations this weekend, which gave me the notion to blog about sustainable Christmas decorations.

Your first choice should be the evergreens in your yard, or perhaps that of someone you know. Fresh cut pine boughs, along with spruce and Leyland cypress, are likely to be the most widely available. Don't overlook broadleaf evergreens, such as holly, also. Just take care not to remove too much foliage from any one tree or shrub. If someone you know is pruing or removing a tree, take advantage of the bonanza. Freshly cut evergreen boughs will remain green and pretty longest if they are stored in a cold, dark place until you need them. A plastic storage box on the back porch would be ideal.

You can use florist wire to form individual branches into garlands, or to secure branches to a wire form to make a wreath.

Another time-honored way to make Christmas decorations is to use pine cones, sweet gum fruits, acorns, nuts and other natural objects creatively. A bit of red ribbon and some silver paint turns a pine cone into a decoration.

If you are not the creative type, seek out seasonal decor at the farmer's market or produce stand. You will find an array of wreaths, garlands, and other items, all crafted locally. Also visit a local, independent garden center for blooms, such as poinsettia and Christmas cactus, to help brighten up your all-natural holiday.

When it comes to lights, we do recommend taking advantage of available technology. LED holiday lights consume a tiny fraction of the electricity of their forebears, and do not pose a fire hazard, as candles do.

If you do choose to purchase holiday items, consider that plastics not only require fossil fuels as raw materials, but also for the manufacturing process and to transport them here from Asia.

Let's all work together to make this holiday season a sustainable one.




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