It's barely Halloween, but already store shelves are filling with myriad made-in-China baubles to decorate homes -- and trees -- for Christmas. Seems premature, but if you're dreaming of a Christmas that's more green than white, now's the time to be thinking about, and planning for. your Christmas tree.

By this point I think we can agree that faux trees are a real faux pas. Still, should you have any doubt, the folks at the National Christmas Tree Association want to set you straight.

They rather cattily claim, "Actually fake trees were invented by a company who made toilet bowl brushes, the Addis Brush Company. Regardless of how far the technology has come, it's still interesting to know the first fake Christmas trees were really just big green toilet bowl brushes." (OK, so they're a little biased toward the real thing.)

If you do opt to have a Christmas tree at all, live trees are really the way to go -- and, turns out, even cut trees aren't so terrible. After all, for each live Christmas tree that's cut, up to three new seedlings typically will be started as replacements come spring. And, provided you buy your cut trees from small, local tree farms rather than the usual Big Box retailers, you can be fairly certain they weren't trucked in from hundreds of miles away.

But better still? Choose a live tree -- complete with root ball -- and plant it outdoors after the holidays. Going this route takes the most planning because you'll need to carefully pick just the right kind of tree for your climate and growing conditions -- and because you'll want to prepare a final outdoor planting spot while the ground is still soft enough to dig.

Finally, Yuletide celebrants without land of their own can always choose to decorate a potted Norfolk Island pine, and, instead of the usual mass-produced ornaments, consider stringing cranberries and popcorn (you can share these with area wildlife when you're done with them) and try hanging ultra-efficient LED Christmas lights in lieu of those old-fashioned energy wasters. Oh, and don't forget to keep them on a timer, so your lights aren't on continuously.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2007. The story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2007

Greening the Christmas tree
Green your Christmas, starting with the most important accent -- the tree.