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  • Cutting your own tree on national forest lands, by permit, can be a fun family excursion and save money. Remember: Cutting trees and boughs from state lands is illegal. The non-profit Puget Sound Christmas Tree Association external link offers a list of local u-cut farms.
  • Make sure your cut tree gets composted and turned into mulch after the holidays.
  • Consider a living tree. These potted Christmas trees, available at many nurseries, are usually smaller than cut trees. They should only be kept in the house for about a week, so they don't start sprouting new growth. You can keep the tree outside, haul it in to enjoy it at Christmastime for several years, and then eventually plant it in the yard or give it away.
    • Some local nurseries and groups offer programs where you can bring back your living tree after Christmas and it is used for habitat restoration. Search online for "Trees for Salmon Seattle" or "Adopt a Stream" for details.
  • Artificial Christmas trees can be considered green, since you reuse them every year. However, many older artificial trees are made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride (a plastic linked to environmental problems, primarily in production), so consider a used vintage aluminum tree instead.
  • Several local organic or low-impact growers also sell wreaths at area farmers' markets.
  • For Hanukkah, menorahs can be made from practically anything. Buy distinctive recycled menorahs online or make your own.
  • Instead of buying new versions of vintage ornaments and decorations, take advantage of the abundant selection of used originals at thrift shops and consignment stores.
  • Ask older relatives or friends if they have any extra vintage decorations you can use. They might be thrilled to get them out of the attic.
  • Brighten up your faded or slightly damaged ornaments with a little nontoxic craft paint. Older decorations may contain paint with lead or other heavy metals, so don’t the kids play with them.
  • Ask neighbors if you can trim a little of their holly, cedar, corkscrew willow, or plants with berries to use for holiday decorating.
  • Cranberries, popcorn, fruits and nuts also make fun decorations. After the holidays you can eat them, compost them or give them to the birds.
  • Add your own distinctive touch to decorating with family memorabilia, from antique cookie cutters to old toy collections.
  • Energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) or solar-powered lights add a sleek look to your holiday decorations, and may save you $30 or more on your winter electric bill. Most area retailers now carry LED holiday lights, and some may offer discounts on Energy Star-rated LEDs.
  • When you buy new LED lights, ask retailers if they will recycle your old holiday lights, or look for other holiday-light-recycling collection programs.
  • Nearly all Christmas lights, including LEDs, contain PVC plastic and sometimes lead in the wiring, so keep those out of reach of children and wash your hands after handling them.
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King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal