Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tossin' the Tannenbaum

We humans do not have a great track record of "Thinking Green."

I am as guilty as anyone. In the years I have spent as an engineer designing stuff, the eventual retirement and disposal of the product was at most an afterthought. I just wanted the widget to look fabulous and perform flawlessly. I seldom cared how my brainchild spent the eventual eternity of its days in the landfill.

Well, folks, let's stop the insanity Since this is the time when so many of our readers start to think about giving the tree the trim, I want to talk about Christmas trees. However, as you go out to pick out that blue spruce or Fraser, Douglas, or Balsam fir this year think ahead to what you will do with it after baby new year has spent the night in your bathroom puking up that last round of vodka shots that seemed at the time to be just the right nightcap.

Let me offer my suggestion for Christmas tree disposal. I have been using this technique for years, and it has never let me down. It takes just a tiny bit of extra work, but I think we can all agree that proper recycling is worth the effort.

To begin, simply tie the dead tree to the top of the your car or truck. That's it. That is the full extent of the physical labor involved in the tree recycling process. However, there are several little steps you'll need to get right. In this recycling system, the failure of any minor step will likely result in the failure of the overall mission.

Selection of the string is key. The tree should be tied to the top of the vehicle with the lightest string one can find. I have some particularly light kite string that has a tensile test rating of about eight ounces (just over two Newtons). Sewing thread can also be used, but I caution against using Nylon or Polyester.... they're just too strong.

With the proper thread/string selected you loosely tie the tree to the top of the car and head out for the open road. At this stage of the recycling process, the efforts switch from physical to more of a mental exercise. It helps to become a "method actor" and fixate on the belief that you are just out for a nice highway drive. Ignore the sounds coming from the top of the car. Ignore the pointing from other motorists who pull alongside you. Get into "The Zone." Set the cruise control for about 60mph and think about how good that coffee is going to taste when you arrive at the targeted Starbucks 12 miles from home.

The next step of the Christmas tree recycling is without a doubt the most important one of the entire process. This is the time when you really have to sell it. Your look of surprise will make or break the success of your recycling activity. When you hear the "WHOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!" you have to resist the urge to giggle and, instead, try to look just as shocked and surprised as all of the people around you.

I have been doing this for years, and I have gotten to a point where I can make it through the launch sequence without showing any emotion at all. It took years of training to attain the ability to not crack a smile while watching cars in the rear view mirror swerve and scatter...but I am there. However, you should not expect this type of stoic, fixed focus to duty during your first few attempts. Remember, I am an experienced recycler.

Enjoy the Christmas season and throw yourself into making this year's Christmas tree the best ever. However, plan ahead so that you aren't left with a rotting tree carcass at the foot of the driveway. With a proper recycling plan you can see to it that your Christmas tree is properly returned to nature.

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