Milliken Holiday Trees Raise Spirits & Dollars

Dec. 27, 2007

LaGrange, GA - Milliken Design Center recently launched a "green" holiday tradition to raise company spirits and funds for the United Way using the company's Respect Our Earth philosophy as a sustainable décor theme.

"Our first annual Milliken Design Center United Way Tree Contest melded ideas around holiday decorating into an earth-friendly creative effort that raises money for United Way," explains Jennifer Beedy-Booker, senior designer with Milliken Floor Covering. "People had a chance to interact on a different level and have fun at the same time we raised money through the voting contest."

She developed the program with Murray Schine, who is responsible for the 2008 Milliken Design Center United Way Campaign, to raise spirits as well as money. Beedy-Booker has decorated the corporate tree for several years, and wanted to get more people involved. The outcome was a volunteer challenge that encourages each department or area to decorate a holiday tree using Milliken's Respect Our Earth sustainable philosophy as a theme.

"We had 10 entries our first year ... ­it was a fantastic way to brighten the workplace and raise awareness at the same time," says Becky Gibson, chair of the Milliken LaGrange United Way Campaign. "We actually generated a lot of useful and sustainable decorating tips."

Tips to Make Your Holiday Decorating More Earth Friendly:
Trees - Do you even need a tree? Although most people recycle their live Christmas trees, some do not. Find a place that recycles trees into chipping mulch. Even an artificial tree can be recycled. If you are tired of it-donate it to a church, shelter, or other group that decorates for the holidays. One team used a potted Cypress that will enhance landscaping after the holidays.

Ornaments - Alternatives include recycled Christmas cards, paper mache from newspapers, or natural items. How did our ancestors decorate? Pinecones, oranges, and cloves make beautiful decorations as do popcorn and cranberry garlands and cinnamon sticks tied with rosemary. Not only are they good for compost, they smell great. Pressed leaves clipped on the tree with clothespins add natural elements. Another great idea is decorating for our feathered friends after the holidays­ with birdseed hangings or popcorn garlands. Some teams applied creativity using items from trade shows, yarn, tire cording, and golf balls are examples. If you are tired of the ornaments in your collection, have an ornament swap with your friends. This approach allows the old to be new again. 

Lights - Do you even need lights that use energy? Some Milliken teams used mirrors and reflective items to catch the light. Reduce holiday light overload: use a timer to control when your lights burn.

Reuse - Fabric scraps, linens, old t-shirts, maps, grocery bags, and newspapers or comics make great alternative wrapping. Old Christmas cards make gift tags the following year. 

Milliken Floor Covering, based in LaGrange, GA, uses alternative energy and operates with zero waste to landfill. It is a business unit of Milliken & Company, the world's largest privately held textile and chemical manufacturer, with an eco-heritage of 100+ years. The carbon negative manufacturer is guided by a philosophy of Respect to the Earth, using fewer resources to produce more. Go to to learn more.

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