Monday, December 13, 2010

o, christmas tree (by special guest Matt Hooooooban)

My wife, the resident blogger here, will literally drag me across trafficky New York City streets just to walk through the sidewalk Christmas tree stands that start popping up after Thanksgiving. That's how much she loves the smell of Christmas trees. And judging by the smiles on the faces of other people walking through those impromptu glades of pine-scented heaven, she's not alone.

I'm not one to disagree. But being the lily-livered liberal that I am, I can't help myself from wondering these days what environmental price we might be paying in exchange for dressing up all those firs and balsams and pine trees in lights and tinsel.

Unless you're foolish enough to deny climate change, you don't need a lecture from me about the oxygen-producing and carbon-cleansing benefits of trees. (Although, if you do need that lecture, feel free to drop me or Oprallison a line and we'll bring you up to speed rill rill quick.) What you may need, however, are ideas about how to give back.

For those of you who heart New York, the Central Park Conservancy is a great place to start. There is literally no season where the glory of Central Park won't take your breath away, and the good folks at the Conservancy are the reason why. In addition to maintaining the foremost urban park space in the country, the Conservancy also partners with urban park systems throughout the city, the country, and the world to advise on management and fundraising.
In short, they totally rule.

Their donation page offers a spate of options for how you can contribute to the Conservancy, including becoming a member, adopting a Central Park Pal, and tree protection/endowment. The minimum commitment to exclusively endow a tree is $1,000, so it's not for the faint of budget. But any amount will be welcomed as part of the Protect Central Park's Trees effort which, among other things, is helping to repair the damage from violent summer storms the past two years. You can also donate daffodils or tulips as part of Central Park's regular spring planting, which make a fantastic springtime gift.

The Central Park Conservancy store also offers several items whose sale benefits the Conservancy, including the "Imagine" Christmas ornament, which is patterned after the mosaic in the Strawberry Fields section of the Park.

For those looking a little more globally, Trees for the Future is a Maryland-based 501(c)3 organization that helps replant trees in Central America, Africa, and Asia, where rampant logging and deforestation have destroyed animal habitats, eroded once-fertile topsoil, and interrupted the regular recharging of natural aquifers. A tree anywhere helps provide oxygen and carbon dioxide everywhere, so it's good for all of us.

One last thing for the people in NYC. When the holidays are over and the wrapping paper has all been recycled, the New York City Sanitation Department will be collecting Christmas trees for recycling and mulching. Curbside collections will take place between January 4 and January 15. If you live near the City (or if you're feeling particularly industrious and don't mind coating your car in dried pine needles), you can also bring your tree to the NYC Parks & Recreation Mulchfest on Saturday and Sunday January 9 and 10 between 10am and 2pm. More details on that here.

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