Evergreens for Solstice
Did you know that long before Christmas existed many people used evergreens to celebrate the winter solstice? Solstice is either known for being the shortest day of the year or the longest night of the year. Winter solstice is usually on December 21st every year.
During these early older times people believed that the green branches of evergreens meant that the sun would be shining more and the new plant growth represented everlasting life!
First Trees for Christmas
The first recorded fir tree decorated for Christmas was dated back to the 16th Century! The tree was decorated with artificial roses and placed for people to dance around them.
Christians began hanging
evergreen tips from ceiling and decorated them with apples and nuts. German settlers in Pennsylvania displayed public Christmas trees in their communities.
These are a few fun facts about America and Christmas trees:
1850’s- 1st Christmas tree sold in America commercially and the White House had its first Christmas tree which was chosen by President Franklin Pierce.
1900’s- Americans decorated trees in homes with colored popcorn, berries and nuts.
1901- New Jersey has its first Christmas tree farm owned by W.V. McGalliard, who planted 25,000 trees.
1923- President Calvin Coolidge initiated the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn.
1930’s- 1st Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on display- no lights and was a very small tree.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
When the Christmas season is over and you are taking down the tree, it is time to figure out what you can do with it! The following are ways you can recycle your Christmas tree instead of dumping it at the landfill!
unnecessary holiday baggage
Ah yes, the holiday season is here again! With daily trips to the grocery store and what seems like an infinite exchange of gift giving comes the inevitable great bag build up. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phenomenon I’m referring to – when it seems that every cabinet, drawer, or shelf with extra space becomes home to flimsy, plastic bags being saved for reusing or recycling. But let’s be honest, the number of times these bags end up getting reused or brought back to the store for proper disposal compared to the number of times they are thrown away because they cause too much clutter is miniscule. The holidays are stressful enough, don’t let unnecessary “baggage” and a lack of knowledge of better solutions keep you from enjoying all the trips to the store.
This December, the NRT has been chosen as the beneficiary of Big Y’s Community Bag Program, which has me thinking about just how environmentally friendly reusable bags can be, and let me tell you, the results were not what I was expecting!
The focus of the investigation revolved around life cycle assessments of the different types of reusable bags and comparing them to single-use plastic bags. One thing that surprised me was that production-wise, it is actually less environmentally taxing to produce 1 single-use bag than their reusable alternatives, but because so many are being produced and people don’t know how to properly dispose of them, they become a much larger problem.
Many people, myself included, have at one point or another subscribed to the idea that 100% cotton is 100% best and all plastic, in any form, is ruining our planet. To all my cotton enthusiasts, prepare to have your mind blown – a UK study found that one cotton bag needs to be used 7,100 times in order to have a smaller environmental impact than one single-use plastic bag! This number is so large greatly due to the production impact of cotton, the use of bleach and dyes, and the transport of cotton products. This isn’t to say using a reusable cotton bag is the end of the world, but be prepared to use that bag A LOT.
Most of the green, plastic reusable bags we find in stores these days are made from a plastic called polypropylene. If you invest in one of these bags, be sure to hang on to it as you will need to use it at least 37 times to make an environmental impact (minute compared to its cotton counterpart).
If you thought getting paper bags at the grocers put you in the clear, you are sorely mistaken. In order for that one paper bag to be less environmentally impactful, you need to use it at least 43 times. That being said, the benefits of paper bags are that they are biodegradable unlike their plastic counterparts. The same can be said for cotton bags.
This research was only the tip of the iceberg for me and there are many other factors that need to be taken into account when assessing what works best for you, but there are some general tips that can help you reduce your environmental impact when holiday (or any day) shopping this year:
Winter wonderland for your pets
With the cold weather approaching you want to make sure your furry friends are safe and properly cared for. Winter time can be very stressful for all animals, whether they live indoors or outdoors. Remember that the winter weather affects animals in many different ways. The following are a few tips to help your pets stay happy and healthy this winter.
Baby It's Cold Outside
As the temperature starts to drop, and the snow and freezing rain arrives, we have some nifty pet practices that are sure to help keep those furry friends healthy. Please make sure that your pets are safely indoors during the harsh weather, and those animals that live outdoors have a safe and warm covered place to protect them from the elements. For those dogs that are living outside, a four-sided house with a flap over the door and plenty of hay/straw as bedding to stay warm will do.
For happy house pets that are living indoors, remember they do need to be warm while outside for walks and play. Some thin coat dogs could use a fashionable sweater or jacket to help keep their bodies warm. Also with the shorter days, you can keep them safe by putting a reflective vest on your pet during early mornings and evenings.
For Pawrific Time of Year
When walking during the winter months, remember that street salt is a dog’s worst enemy and can cause drying out and cracking of their paw pads. Dogs' paws should be wiped down and cleaned of all salt after every walk. You can even buy winter boots for your dog!
Dashing Through the Snow
During winter there is ice on the road, and salt or other de-icing chemicals may be used. These chemicals are a hazardous to pets, so never let your pet drink from roadside puddles, and make sure you rinse and dry feet and other body parts when you return from outside.
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
Fall and winter is also the beginning of hunting season! With so many beautiful walking trails passing through scenic woodlands, you are going to run into many hunters. Having your dog dressed with a fashionable reflective vest during these seasons, hunters will be able to identify the difference between Bambi and your pet while out on that stroll.
The Hounds of Winter
Winter Quick Tips:
NRT's dedicated staff are responsible for the content of the NatureTalk blog. Questions? For more information on any blog post, please contact us at any time.