Americans are flocking to stores and websites to find that perfect gift, that one card that says it all, that tree to end all trees. But as we feast, give gifts, decorate and travel, we consume lots of resources and generate lots of waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of household trash increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and the New Year. That extra waste amounts to 25 million tons.
Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and New Years may have a special meaning, but this year's festivities don't have to negatively impact our environment. There are a number of ways to lessen the amount of trash we produce - - by reducing, reusing and recycling what we can -- without putting a damper on the holiday season.
Cards and Gifts
· Consider buying gifts with the Energy Star logo. They use less energy.
· Buy smart - - be on the lookout for gifts and cards that are recyclable or have recycled content.
· Consider substituting postcards for cards.
· Reuse old holiday cards as gift tags.
· Consider gifts with a history - - from your home or a thrift shop.
· Decorate with more energy efficient mini-lights and use them when someone is home. This will reduce energy and reduce fire hazards.
· Avoid foil and plastic-embossed paper and cards because they use more resources in the manufacturing process.
· Use wrapping paper from last year to recycle, or consider wrapping presents with cloth or newsprint - - such as comics, travel or sport sections.
· When giving food as gifts, use recyclable containers.
· Store leftovers in reusable containers.
· Review the list of recyclables that your community accepts and be sure to recycle all paper, plastic, glass and aluminum you can.
· Bring your own bags on shopping trips so shops won't have to give you new ones with your purchases.
· Don't take a new gift box with your purchase if you have a supply of old ones, or try to wrap it without a box.
· Walk or use mass transit when shopping. Or buy your gifts by phone or on the web.
· Choose shops you can walk or bike to, instead of driving. When you need to drive, combine several errands into one trip or carpool with others. Less driving means less air pollution and conserves fuel.
· Buy a living tree you can plant outside or keep as a houseplant.
· Buy a tree grown locally to save energy associated with transportation.
· Buy a smaller tree. There's less to dispose of when you take it down, and shorter growing time translates into less land required.
· If your town doesn't have a tree chipping and tree recycling site - - ask why.
And after the holidays are over you can further reduce the amount of waste generated by:
• Plant or donate live trees and recycled cut trees.
• Donate unwanted gifts and food to thrifts stores and food banks.
• Compost veggie and fruit trimmings.
• Recycle all the glass, paper, and plastics left over from the holidays.
• Remember to recycle old electronics, too - - computers, cell phones, printers, etc.
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543