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The Greenest Tree
December 2011

Go Natural for Christmas

treeThe star of many families’ seasonal décor, the annual Christmas tree does not need to become an environmental burden if selected with care. While some individuals have strong opinions about the virtues of a natural tree versus an artificial one, each can have pros and cons.

The National Christmas Tree Association points out that 85 percent of the plastic trees sold in the United States are imported from China and may contain toxic chemicals, while evergreen trees can be grown in all 50 states. Even with a real tree, however, there are factors to consider.

How far did the tree travel? The distance traveled from its source impacts the carbon footprint, due to the fuel expended to transport it. Most vendors can tell you the state of origin, but how about pesticides? Conventional Christmas tree farms are reputed to use abundant pesticides to keep their product looking picture-perfect. Ask if the seller is the grower and/or knows the answer. Typically, a temporary sidewalk or street corner seller may not; a better bet can be a u-pick-it tree farm.

Put a cut tree in water within a few hours after trimming the base a flat one-half to one inch; some people add an aspirin to the water to enhance absorption.

According to the 2009 National Geographic Green Guide, Americans annually discard 30 million cut trees after the holidays, with the wood wasted in landfills. Alternatively, a program in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, collects them to combat coastal erosion.

Locate tree growers by state and learn how to dispose of trees responsibly atPickYourOwnChristmasTree.orgGreenPromise.com publishes a list of organic Christmas tree farmers at Tinyurl.com/65oqh9.

When choosing a live tree, keep it properly hydrated and just repot it in the yard after the celebrations conclude. Find detailed steps for care and planting from WikiHow.com atTinyurl.com/6dyauj and Tinyurl.com/3rj582n.

 
Meaningful Giving
December 2011

Tips to Simplify the Season

homemade_gift'Tis the season, and a U.S. poll by Harris Interactive reveals that a majority of the stress 90 percent of us feel about the holidays is related to gift-giving. So, solving this problem will set us well on our way to ajoyeux noël. The same study found that given a choice, most of us prefer investing in good family relationships instead of more material things, anyway.

Natural Awakenings has uncovered four ways that we can make the holidays less hectic and more relaxing and meaningful. First, says Barbara Kilikevich, author of A Mindful Christmas–How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday, we have to stop buying into the notion that more is better and that extravagant, expensive gifts are equal to how much we care for one another. “We need to stop believing that doing it all is productive and having it all is meaningful.”

 
Acupuncture Eases Unexplained Symptoms
December 2011

A Natural Alternative May Offer Relief

acupuncturePatients that experience medically unexplained symptoms might benefit from acupuncture, according to new research by the Institute of Health Services Research, Peninsula Medical School, at the University of Exeter. The study involved 80 adults that had consulted their general practitioner eight or more times in the previous year for problems such as headaches, muscle pain, extreme fatigue or joint and back pain. Half received up to 12 sessions of five-element acupuncture during a period of six months; the remainder received no extra treatment.

The patients receiving acupuncture reported improved well-being and scored higher on an individualized health status questionnaire  than the control group. They reported that their acupuncture consultations became increasingly valuable and that the interactive and holistic nature of the sessions gave them a sense that something positive was being done about their condition.

Professor Andrew Gould, who led the study, says it is important to offer patients other options when conventional medicine isn’t working. “It’s soul-destroying for both the patient and doctor when there’s no clear reason for the symptoms patients are suffering from,” he explains. “We don’t know how acupuncture is making a difference, but it seems to be something to do with the treatment, rather than just a placebo or the one-to-one care the patients are getting.”

The study was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. The research results were published inThe British Journal of General Practice.

 
Empower Local Businesses to Strengthen Local Economies
November 2011

Success Tips from Advocate Michelle Long

Michelle_LongMichelle Long is the executive director of the Bellingham, Washington-based Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). The fast-growing network aims to empower local businesses with their financial goals while they actively contribute to healthier communities and a cleaner environment. Their triple bottom line is people, the planet and profit.

BALLE represents 22,000 independent businesses in 30 states and Canadian provinces. By serving as an information clearinghouse and support center, BALLE is proving that no business is too small to make a difference.

Why is it important to foster local economies?

Locally based activity is where we are seeing real prosperity. Today, as we face economic, community and ecological crises, we see bright spots where local businesses are working together to build strong, healthy local economies.

How can local businesses positively affect their  communities  and the environment?

There is a natural accountability when business owners live with the impacts of their decisions, instead of from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Local supply chains also reduce carbon impacts by decreasing transport time.

 
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