According to Use Less Stuff, trash from gift-wrapping and shopping bags total four million tons of waste each year. And while the public misperception exists that artificial trees are better than a natural tree, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, natural trees are a more eco-friendly choice because they’re biodegradable, carbon neutral and chemical free.


Through this program, The Inverness Hotel, in partnership with Tree by Tree – The Mile High Million (metro Denver’s million tree planting initiative), Tagawa Gardens, and Radio Disney, aims to rectify public misperception and bring awareness to the importance of recycling during the holidays using a creative and educational approach targeted at school age children. Each school that submits an application will receive an informational packet that includes eco-friendly practices and ideas teachers can share with students.


Competition Scope

For logistical reasons, the Trash to Trees tree challenge will be open to Arapahoe, Douglas County and Denver county 4th - 8th graders only. Each participating school will be challenged to decorate a 5-foot tree using recycled or re-purposed items only. They must select a ‘theme’ to guide their decorations and a list of all the recycled items they used. Beyond those rules, students are encouraged to get creative!


Call for Participation

A call for participation will be issued October 3 and completed applications will be due by 5:00 p.m. November 14. Due to display space constraints at the hotel, the competition will be limited to the first 50 respondents to submit their application. One submission per school (classroom, grade level or student nominated committee) will be accepted. All participating classes will be given a specific day between Dec. 2 – 4 to go to The Inverness Hotel to decorate their tree onsite. Each will have a specified staging room where they can decorate the tree as a team. Each school will need to coordinate their own transportation to/from the hotel.


Display Open to The Public

The trees will be on display beginning Dec. 5 – Dec. 14 in the main lobby and along the main entrance hallways at The Inverness Hotel located at 200 Inverness Drive West, Englewood. The Inverness Hotel will invite the community to stop by the hotel Dec. 5 – Dec. 14 to cast their vote and enjoy complimentary cocoa and cookies. There will a total of 10 judging categories, such as Most Recycled Items Used; Best Tree Top Decoration; Most Original Decorating Theme; etc. The Inverness Hotel will tally the votes on Dec. 14 and list the winners on their Web site by Dec. 15. 

Funds Allocation

This initiative will help fund several financial initiatives:

School PTA/PTO:

A total of 10 category winners will receive a monetary award to fund their school’s PTA/ PTO that will be finalized once all sponsorship and donation supporters are secured.

In addition to the category winner, there will be a silent auction running concurrently during the display period that will allow the community to bid on each tree. The highest bidder will receive the tree and the school’s PTA/PTO group will receive the winning bid amount.

Tree by Tree

A dedicated percentage from each sponsorship commitment will be allocated to purchase trees for public display in the greater Denver area. All trees purchased through this program will help bring the community closer to reaching Mayor Hickenlooper’s quest to plant one million new trees throughout Denver area by 2025. 

Spreading the Word

The Inverness Hotel will partner with Tree by Tree, Tagawa Gardens, and Radio Disney to cross-promote the tree competition via proactive public relations and marketing initiatives, including but not limited to media outreach to print, online and broadcast media; email campaigns, in-room promotions, hotel communications, Web site, etc. Both public relations and marketing initiatives will be issued on a systematic basis to garner maximum event exposure.


About the Program Founders

The Inverness Hotel

The Inverness Hotel is a full-service hotel and conference center situated in suburban Denver, Colo. that offers 302 recently renovated guestrooms and suites and a premiere medley of business and leisure amenities. Hotel guests enjoy convenient, on-property access to a new, full-service spa; an 18-hole Preston Maxwell designed golf course, five multi-cuisine restaurants and boutique shops. With 42 individual meeting rooms and a wide array of outdoor event venues, The Inverness Hotel is a preferred property of choice for work, play or both.


Tree by Tree – The Mile High Million

Tree by Tree – The Mile High Million is Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s initiative to inspire individuals, neighborhood associations, schools, nonprofits and businesses to nurture and plant one million trees in the Denver metropolitan area by 2025. As a highly participatory component of Greenprint Denver, the initiative has already led to projects with more than 40 cities, park districts, schools and community organizations. The goal is to engage and motivate individuals to become life-long stewards of our natural environment. The Initiative facilitates volunteer tree planting projects, youth education programs, community forester training and public outreach to educate citizens about the importance of trees and a healthy urban forest.


Tagawa Gardens

Tagawa Gardens is a family owned and operated corporation serving the Denver Metro area since 1977. They provide annuals, herbs, perennials, trees, shrubs, rose bushes, pond plants, houseplants, fresh flowers, home décor items, gifts, pottery, garden supplies, soils, mulches & everything else area residents need to beautify their home. During the winter holidays, they have thousands of poinsettias, fresh evergreens & Christmas trees, ornaments, decorations, gifts and custom-made floral designs.


Radio Disney

Radio Disney is the #1, 24-hour radio network devoted to kids, tweens and families. Kids help pick the music that is played and are encouraged to interact via a toll-free phone line to the Radio Disney studio. The network’s current playlist, driven by listener requests and representing major record labels, includes recording artists Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Corbin Bleu, Taylor Swift, Jordin Sparks, Chris Brown, Aly & AJ, The Cheetah Girls, Colbie Caillat and Carrie Underwood. The network is available to 97% of the U.S., which includes over 50 terrestrial radio stations. It is also available via, XM and Sirius satellite radio, iTunes Radio Tuner, XM/DIRECTV and mobile phones. Radio Disney has a sister network in Latin America. Its brand extensions include multiple Radio Disney Jams CDs from Walt Disney Records and iTunes Music Store offerings.