Undecking the halls

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From Green Right Now Reports

Just as we were getting ready to list our green ways to unfurl the holiday mess, came a timely tidbit about using  cedar spray on holiday decorations to discourage critters and insects from feeding on them in the off-season.

Bows and Wrap
(Photo: Green Right Now)

Naturally, this bit of advice arrived from the CedarCide company in Spring, Texas. Still, it sounded like as good a place to start as any, and frankly, we’ve failed in the past to seal up keepsakes well enough to fend off tiny invaders. Sure, we’ve used cedar blocks and scents in the closet, but it just never occurred to us to spray it on attic storage. According to the website, Cedarcide can be lethal to dust mites, bed bugs and fleas. It’s unclear whether is will deter rats and squirrels. Still, it smells considerably better than the fox urine that some people use to dissuade squirrels from attic camp-outs.

A caveat: We can’t endorse CedarCide’s program in which a homeowner blasts the lawn with CedarCide, killing many tiny living things. This would needlessly destroy the balance of nature in an organic yard. We’re talking here about using the scent on boxes and possibly on pets to keep harmful pests at bay while forgoing more toxic options.

But back to the post holiday clean up.

Here’s the checklist for winding down greenly, after the holidays, which is a great time to reduce, recycle and reuse:

  • Go ahead, put the folderol in plastic boxes, the better to keep it in the attic or basement. Use cedar blocks to deter moths, and watch out for food items on wreaths and homemade goods, they’ll attract unwanted guests.
  • Mulch that Christmas tree. Check your city website for times and details. If those are hard to come by, the best directory of Christmas tree recycling centers can be found at Earth911. Get ready — Earth911 reports that Jan. 3 is the most popular day for tree pickups. By the way, congratulations Chicago for topping Earth911’s list of the cities with the most Christmas tree recycling programs.
  • Now, about those cardboard boxes you’ve accumulated this season. Most cities will gladly pick them up on bulk recycling day. It’s helpful – in some cases necessary – for you break them down and present a flattened layer for pick up.
  • Another use for cardboard, however, is as a weed blocker in the garden. If you’ve got trouble spots, plain, matte cardboard can block sunlight to emerging weeds in early spring, and it’s completely degradable, so you don’t have to worry about that weed blocker sheeting sold in stores leaving a synthetic residue in your flower or veggie patch. Granted, mid-winter is not the best time to lay down the cardboard, so you’ll have to store it until early spring. When you do use cardboard, mulch over the top, and punch through for plantings.
  • One more thing about boxes. It’s a no-brainer, but we’ll mention it anyway. Those US Postal Service boxes that can be mailed for a set fee, can be reused and reused. So find a spot for them.
  • Wrapping paper, obviously, can be refolded and saved for next year. (Just keep buying smaller and smaller presents!) We’ve been saving bows and paper for years and find that the collection makes a nice pastiche. This year, one of our gift recipients remarked on what a nice bag her gift came in. We didn’t mention that it had once been hers!
  • Hang on to that wreath. If it’s got live needles, you can collect them for mulch in the garden. If it’s faux, it can be reused for years and refreshed with holly leaves and berries and bows next year.
  • Got leftover club soda? Plants apparently like it, once it has gone flat. It provides potassium they need. We stole this idea from Real Simple, which has printed an interesting list of wind-down holiday ideas. This caught our eye because it seems to be a cousin to another recycling practice we promote: Using leftover beer as a hair conditioner. Of course, you’ll  want to be selective about which post-party beer you choose for this personal haircare treatment. Don’t need any extras with the beer. This natural treatment cuts through the gunk that accumulates on your hair and leaves it nice and shiny; especially good for hair that’s more naturally oily.
  • Got leftover energy? Take the opportunity to cull old sweaters and clothing while hanging up the new duds you may have received. Donate the stuff you’re not going to wear again right now, while it’s in season. At least you’ve likely got a ready box. And you could spritz it with cedar oil! If you don’t have a local place you use for donations, check out Freecycle.com.

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