Keep the Midlands Beautiful wants to remind you that it is easy to be environmentally friendly this time of year.
A few tips:
-Use smaller bulbs, or even better, LED bulbs. LED bulbs use less energy and are long lasting and safer because they burn cool instead of warm.
-Recycle your live Christmas tree through the Grinding of the Greens Christmas tree recycling program.
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-Decorate naturally. Make a centerpiece of fruits, vegetables or nuts. Decorate your home with holly, berries, fruits and nuts, which can all be composted.
-Use a timer on house and tree lights to avoid keeping them on all night.
-Look for gifts made from recycled materials.
-Give homemade goodies in a tin, jar or basket that can be reused. Homemade crafts or framed photographs also are good ideas.
-Buy local and organic, use reusable plates and napkins, and compost your food waste.
-When doing your holiday shopping, bring your own canvas, plastic or paper shopping bags and/or consolidate your purchases into one bag.
-Reuse packing containers and shipping materials such as peanuts, shredded newspaper and bubble wrap.
You can still tour some historic homes for a glimpse of an old-time Christmas.
Historic Columbia's house museums are decorated for the holidays and open through Jan. 3. Tours of the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion or Mann-Simons Cottage are avail-able 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday at the top of every hour.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Call for group rates. For more information or to schedule group tours or tours by reservation, call (803) 252-1770, ext. 24. historiccolumbia.org
In Eastover, tours of the decorated 1850s Kensington Mansion are held at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays this month. The mansion is at U.S. 601 at S.C. 764. Tickets are $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $2.50 for children 10 and older. For information, call (803) 353-0456 or go to kensingtonmansion.org.
CHRISTMAS TREE TIPS
Are you a late Christmas tree shopper?
Here's how to select a fresh tree: Gently hold a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
You also can shake or bounce the tree on its stump. You should not see a lot of green needles fall to the ground, though interior brown ones probably will.
When you bring a tree into the house, put it in as cool a spot as possible. Avoid areas near fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, heat ducts and television sets. Make sure the tree stand's reservoir stays filled with water. If it loses enough water that the bottom of the trunk is exposed, the trunk will need to be recut.
Adding aspirin, copper pennies, soda pop, sugar or bleach to the water has not been shown to prolong the life of a tree.