0104 NowTime

1/4/2014 7:00 AM

To Benefit the Environment When Disposing of Your Christmas Tree

Some people avoid fresh Christmas trees because they think cut trees are not ecologically friendly. But an expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences says real trees can provide environmental benefits.

Professor emeritus Larry Kuhns says if you have a wooded area or other appropriate place on your property, putting the entire tree out to decompose can provide habitat for wildlife.

Kuhn also points out that with proper handling, cut trees can provide benefits for ornamental plants. Any homeowner can cut the branches off the tree and just place them around the home as mulch.

The trunk can be placed somewhere out of sight and within a few years it will totally decompose. Kuhn also notes that the farms where Christmas trees are grown provide ecological services such as erosion control, atmospheric oxygen and wildlife habitat.

To Understand the Benefits <\n>of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Switching from traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, is an easy change everyone can make now to reduce energy use and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports that Energy Star-qualified CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs, last up to 10 times longer, cost little up front and provide a quick return on investment.

If every household in Pennsylvania replaced one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star-qualified CFL, the combined individual efforts would save up to 248 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or enough to light every household in Altoona for nearly 6.3 years.

This would save consumers $25.5 million annually on household electric bills.

A CFL can save a consumer more than $60 over its entire life cycle. Additonally, this change would prevent nearly 382 millions pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the equivalent of removing the annual emissions from more than 33,000 cars.

Disposal of burned-out bulbs is an issue with CFLs because of their mercury content. DEP recommends that consumers take advantage of CFL recycling options through their local municipality or a private disposal entity.

Consumers can contact the Household Hazardous Waste Hotline at 800-346-4242 to identify local recycling options or visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: HHW, then click on the link for “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Programs.”

If a recycling option does not exist, Pennsylvania regulations permit households to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage that have been sealed in two plastic bags. CFLs should not be disposed of in an incinerator.

The regulations do not allow nonhousehold operations (e.g. commercial, industrial or institutional establishments) to dispose of hazardous waste CFLs in the garbage.

These CFLs must be sent to a permitted mercury-recycling facility. For more information on nonhousehold CFL recycling, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Lamp Recycling.

Energy Star-qualified CFLs have a warranty. If the bulb has failed within the warranty period, the defective CFL should be returned to the manufacturer.

To Know When to Blanket a Horse

Horses have two natural defenses against cold: a long hair coat and a layer of fat beneath the skin. Both provide an excellent means of insulation against the cold.

Marcia Hathaway from the University of Minnesota tells us the long winter hair coat serves as insulation, reducing the loss of body heat and providing the first line of defense against the cold.

Its insulating value is lost when the horse becomes wet or is covered with mud. This is why it is important to provide a dry sheltered area in cold, wet weather and regular grooming.

But, how do you know if you should blanket your horse or not?

Blanketing a horse is necessary to reduce the effects of cold and inclement weather when there is no shelter available during turnout periods and temperatures with wind chill drop below 5 degrees F.

Other times when a blanket is needed is when there is a chance the horse will become wet (not usually a problem with snow but much more of a problem with rain, ice or freezing rain) or if the horse has had its winter coat clipped for showing.

Additionally, a blanket is warranted when the horse is very young or very old, or when it has not been acclimated to the cold (i.e. recently relocated from a southern climate).

Other conditions that require a blanket are if the horse has a body condition score of 3 or less, or is in poor health.

It is important that you have the correct size blanket to fit the horse. Horses can develop rub marks or sores where the straps securing the blanket fit improperly.

If the horse is continuously blanketed, the blanket should be removed regularly to be inspected for damage and repositioned due to twisting.

Make sure blankets are kept dry, and do not put a blanket on a wet horse. Wait until the horse is dry before blanketing. Or take a wet blanket off a horse to keep it from becoming chilled.

On days when the temperature becomes warm, remove the blanket so the horse does not sweat and become wet under the blanket. Air out the blanket and dry out the horse’s hair coat.

Quote of the Week

“Successful people don’t have fewer problems. They have determined that nothing will stop them from going forward.”

— Ben Carson

Leon Ressler is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.


Should states be allowed to pass GMO labeling laws?

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12/19/2014 | Last Updated: 2:45 PM