TDEC Promotes Sustainable Holiday Decorating

Friday, December 12, 2014 | 3:10am

Sustainable decorations can reduce environmental impact during the holiday season

NASHVILLE – The holiday season can be a time for increased waste and consumption of natural materials, and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is promoting sustainable decorating tips to help reduce the season’s environmental impact.

The department is encouraging Tennesseans to purchase live trees and garland from local Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers, decorate with recycled or natural materials, such as popcorn and cranberries strung into garland, and string LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights, which use 90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and can last up to 100,000 hours. Holiday lights should also be turned on for a small period of time each night to conserve energy. Lights on self-timers can be pre-programmed so that they are not mistakenly left on for the entire night.

Sustainable elements are incorporated into the holiday decorations at the Tennessee Residence for the 4th annual Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays free open house event. This year’s decoration theme is “Tennessee Landscapes,” highlighting the natural beauty of Tennessee State Parks and scenic landscapes of west, middle, and east Tennessee.

The live trees and garland at the Tennessee Residence were provided by members of the Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers Association to help support and promote the local industry, and the artificial trees in Conservation Hall are re-used each year, providing a great sustainable alternative. Repurposed items, including State Park trail signs and tools, fishing lures, and duck decoys, adorn the trees, and natural pinecones and branches were collected from the property and used in the decorations. The trees in Conservation Hall were decorated by Tennessee State Parks Junior Rangers. The rangers made ornaments from recycled and natural items found at State Parks, such as corn husk dolls, leaf tracings, animals shaped from birdseed, and designs cut from recycled Tennessee Conservationist magazines.

“This year’s holiday decorations highlight the beauty of our natural Tennessee landscapes, and many of the decorations were created in a way that can help sustain the environment,” First Lady Haslam said. “Repurposed items and handmade decorations can be uniquely creative and less expensive.”

The free open house takes place through Wednesday, December 17, with tours offered Monday – Saturday, and guests may reserve a time to visit on the First Lady’s website, www.tn.gov/firstlady.

“When choosing holiday decorations, look for sustainable materials such as wood and organic cotton, adding texture and character to your décor while supporting the local community,” TDEC Director of Sustainable Practices Lori Munkeboe said.

Looking to purchase a Christmas tree, decorations, entertaining supplies, food and gifts for the holidays? Why not stay local and shop Pick Tennessee products? Visit http://www.picktnproducts.org/.

Tennessee’s 55 state parks offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families, or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. There is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in the state, offering a variety of recreational, lodging and dining choices. For more information about Tennessee State Parks, visit http://tnstateparks.com or connect via Facebook or Twitter.

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Environment & Conservation |First Lady Haslam