Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

If you got a real Christmas tree this year, you may be wondering what to do with it when the holidays are over. Check out Earth911 to find out how to recycle Christmas trees in your area.

Your local solid waste department may pick up trees with the yard waste. Some municipalities chip the trees and use the mulch in public spaces. Other communities use whole trees to prevent erosion on shorelines or to create habitats for underwater creatures.

You can also use your tree as a bird feeder in your back yard. There are several articles on eHow about it.

If you live in Hillsborough County, you have these two options:
  • Curbside Collection. Remove all tinsel and ornaments. Cut your tree into four-foot sections and place out on your normal yard waste collection service day.
  • Self-Delivery. Remove all tinsel and ornaments and deliver your tree to the nearest County Yard Waste Processing Facility. Bring a copy of your property tax bill which lists the Solid Waste Disposal Assessment and some form of identification. Facilities are open from 7:30AM to 5:30PM Monday through Saturday. No artificial trees, please.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Earth 911: A Great Recycling Guide

There are a lot of household waste materials that can be recycled. Municiple curbsite pickups typically collect #1 and #2 plastics, glass, and cardboard. But what about all the rest? It can be tricky to figure out which items are recyclable and where to take them.

This website,, has a great national directory that can help you figure out where to recycle all sorts of products in your area - from Christmas trees to electronic equipment to batteries to paint.

I've been trying to find a convenient way to recycle an old printer. I found an article on Earth 911 about Best Buy's recycling program. I'm going to give it a try!
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Berenstain Bears

I've recently discovered how great The Berenstain Bears children's books are for teaching children about all sorts of life lessons. My children love them, and my older son (who is almost four) really seems to absorb the messages.

Amazon is offering a 4-for-3 special and free shipping on many of The Berenstain Bear books (priced around $3.99 each).

I also found a few from the series at Target for $2.99.

My children will be getting several books from the series for Christmas, including the one about "Too Much Junk Food" and "Too Much TV". We've also been reading "Santa Bear", which has a nice message about the pitfalls of materialism at Christmas.

I love to find children's books with positive messages about healthy, green, and frugal living!
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Sweetwater: Our Third Share

We picked up our third share of produce from Sweetwater Organic Community Farm today. They told us that we can expect more variety (and perhaps greater volume) in our pick-ups now that the weather is cooler.

Today, our pick-up included: three different types of lettuce (including butterleaf - my favorite), joi choi pac choi, carrots, siberian kale, radicchio, eggplant, yellow squash, tomatoes, mizuna, broccoli, kohlrabi, parsley, scallions, and daikon.

This has been such a great way to learn about new vegetables!

Click HERE for my previous posts about Sweetwater.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our $25 Christmas Tree from Ergle Farm

We "harvested" our Christmas tree today from Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Dade City. It's a vibrantly-colored, locally-grown 5-foot Christmas tree, and it only cost $25. Even better, it was a fun family experience! Click HERE to see my earlier post about Ergle Christmas Tree Farm.

We were interviewed by a local television reporter while we were there. He said the story will run in the Tampa area on ABC, CBS, and FOX news at 6PM and 11PM. Let me know if you see us on the news!

Here are some pictures of our experience.

The farm provides saws if you choose to cut your own tree. The smallest tree is 5 feet and cost $25.

This was the tree we chose. There were several variety of trees available. We choose ultimately chose this one because it was fuller and had such a nice vibrant green color.

If you prefer, you can purchase a pre-cut tree. They have some beautiful, very big trees.

You can also purchase a potted tree for as little as $30. Unfortunately, the potted trees wouldn't fit in our car, so we went with the cut-it-yourself variety.

Ergle Farm is a charming little country farm with cute touches like this old car.

My children thoroughly enjoyed looking at the goats.

The farm has trees at all stages of growth, from these new seedlings to trees that are 15 to 20 feet tall. I was pleased to find out that for every tree harvested, one to three trees are planted in its place.

There were lots of wide-open spaces for my active boys to run, and run, and run. They also enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in the trees.

We certainly did breath deeply. The farm smelled just like Christmas!

The 5-foot tree just barely fit in our tiny (but fuel-efficient) car.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Tree Debate: Real or Artifical?

I've debated with friends about which is more eco-friendly - an artificial Christmas tree or a real one. Where do you stand on this issue?

I imagine a potted tree would be ideal. Second to that, I tend to think a real tree would be greener than an artificial one, and here's why:
  • According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) the vast majority of Christmas trees are grown on farms. For every tree that is harvested, 1 to 3 are planted in its place.
  • Real Christmas trees are biodegradable. After the holiday, you can compost your tree or click HERE for information about recycling. Christmas trees can be turned into mulch. They can also be used whole for a variety of purposes, including erosion prevention.
  • On the other hand, artificial trees are not biodegradable. Even though they may be used for many years, they will eventually end up in a landfill. They are made from toxic materials that could contaminate your living space as well as the earth after it is thrown away.
By the way, the National Christmas Tree Association has an interesting article called the 10 Biggest Myths About Christmas Trees.
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A Greener Christmas Tree

Consider making your Christmas a little greener this year by getting a potted Christmas tree. When Christmas is over, you can plant it in your yard and enjoy it for years to come.

I discovered a farm near my house that sells potted Christmas trees for around $45. Even if you don't go with a potted variety, Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Dade City sounds like a fun, frugal, and eco-friendly place to get a Christmas tree.

You can even cut your own Christmas tree! Sounds like a scene from Christmas Vacation. Prices start at $25 for a 5-foot tree. Click HERE for a $2-off coupon. I plan to go with my family this weekend to get our tree and enjoy the petting farm.
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