(Mike Lascelle photo) (Clockwise) Biodegradable gift wrap, assorted Christmas greens, traditional wreath and seasonal porch pot.

Gardening: Decorating the green way

Use biodegradable gift wraps, live trees and real greens.

You need only look out your window on the first garbage day after Christmas to realize that our holiday season is often one of excessive waste.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that most of that debris is simply the packaging used to ship our gifts and decorations – most of which come from distant countries where they are manufactured to standards that leave a lot to be desired, at least as far as the resulting environmental pollution is concerned.

Take your average artificial Christmas tree for instance: almost all of them are produced overseas with PVC that is stabilized with lead in order to make it softer to the touch.

They will last an average of six to 10 years, after which they are either thrown into the landfill, where the PVC component will take at least 500-1,000 years to break down, or, even worse, get incinerated and release a plethora of dioxins and carcinogens for all of us to enjoy in real time.

Either way, it’s not a pretty picture, or at least not one that we want to focus on during the Christmas season – but it is the truth of the matter.

There is, however, another approach to decorating using biodegradable gift wraps, live trees and real greens instead of artificial.

This year, I’ll be wrapping all of my gifts in brown paper, tying them with raffia and adding a few accent greens from my garden at the last minute – I also purchased a reusable Christmas stamp to give it that seasonal look.

But once all those gifts are opened, every scrap of the remaining wrap can be thrown into the compost in good conscience.

The same principle applies to our Christmas tree, which will be a small cut Noble or Fraser fir. My reasoning being that during the seven years it took to grow it, the average acre of cultured Christmas trees absorbs approximately a ton of carbon dioxide and provides the daily oxygen needs for about 18 people – so live trees help all of us to breathe better.

Most of these are recycled after Christmas instead of being dumped in a landfill, usually chipped into mulch used to cover local hiking trails, playgrounds or blended into composted soils so that they can again benefit society at large.

Granted, they do cost more than an artificial tree being reused over several seasons, but the price of the long-term environmental damage caused by plastics may end up being a lot more than the few dollars you are saving right now.

When it comes to décor, in general, there is no end of greens to choose from, and you can just reuse those spent hanging baskets or porch pots as the base for new Christmas planters.

Just make sure the remaining soil is moistened and well compacted so that the branches stay in place as you poke them in.

Red cedar, pine and true fir all make for durable base greens, so you should start with these. Then add accents of redtwig dogwood, blueberry stems, winterberry, skimmia buds or variegated holly.

Even ordinary twigs can be made into highlights with a little eco-friendly white latex paint. A cloth ribbon bow, a cluster of rose hips or even a few pine cones can add that finishing touch and you don’t need to torment yourself about doing the right thing at Christmas.

Besides that, you are upholding a century’s old tradition when you hang a live wreath on the front door instead of that tacky piece of round plastic.

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

Just Posted

Dalton takes riding for Conservatives

Says he personally knocked on 10,000 doors in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

NDP candidate proud of campaign

John Mogk hopes supporters find hope and courage to fight another day

Thousands raised at Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation gala

Theme this year was Singin’ in the Rain

Mounties nab suspected break-in bandit after Pitt Meadows incident

A multi-jurisdictional investigation leads to the arrest of a Port Coquitlam man

Halloween Howl to kick off festivities in Maple Ridge

Norman Foote concert with Yennadon elementary choir

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read