Cut your own tree -- it's 'greener'
Every year, a customer asks Harvard Christmas tree farmer Ben Czarnowski if chopping down a tree is the "green" thing to do.

"In fact, by supporting the Christmas tree farmers, you are helping the environment," Czarnowski tells them. "Besides, if I didn't grow trees here, I would grow beans or corn."

Trees are renewable resources, pump oxygen into the environment, provide habitats for wildlife and help prevent soil erosion, says Czarnowski.

Some farmers, including Czarnowski, also grow their trees organically, sans pesticides and herbicides.

Should a fire occur in a house with a fresh Christmas tree, the homeowner isn't subject to the carcinogens released by some artificial trees.

After Christmas, the tree is biodegradable. Many Chicago-area municipalities chip the trees for homeowners' gardens or for public parks.

All in all, cutting your own, fresh tree, is an eco-smart alternative to buying an artificial one, says Czarnowski.

About that insect ...
Worried that hauling a Christmas tree across county lines will violate bans established to curb emerald ash borers? Not a problem, says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The bans do not apply to Christmas (coniferous) trees, says the DNR.

Don't forget to...
Pack a saw; not all farmers provide one.

Bring cash or a check because many do not accept credit cards.

Bring a blanket or tarp to protect your car from the tree's needles.

Learn more about Christmas tree farms and get information on local locations at the National Christmas Tree Association.