Christmas is in the air already! As I was driving home, I saw Christmas lights being put up on homes and hung along the roadways. When I walked into some stores and even on the radio holiday music was being played. I don’t know about you, but I do not know if I am ready for the Holiday Season. Well, the Holiday is going to come if we want it to or not, so we might as well accept it. But if we start planning now, we can make the holiday season a green one! As we start planning to go shopping for decorations, gifts, and food, we can see how to reduce, reuse and recycle!
The first thing should be to start your shopping planning early. When you know what you want and where to get it, you can cut down on the number of trips you make to the store. When you plan your shopping trips, you reduce the amount of time and stress spent shopping as well as the amount of gasoline wasted driving all over town. Plan your trips and plan what you need to purchase ahead of time. It helps to let your fingers do the shopping. Consider shopping by phone or via the internet. Just remember to look for items that are easy to ship and will require less packaging.
Purchase products with the least amount of packaging whenever possible. We live in an age where products have safety seals to prevent tampering and alarms from preventing shoplifting. That often means more packaging that ends up in the garbage can. Also, consider buying several items in bulk to give as gifts. Buying in bulk will decrease waste and your total cost too.
Use reusable shopping bags. By using a reusable shopping bag whenever possible reduces the number of those plastic bags that we accumulate and sometimes end up as litter on our highways. Each year from 500 billion to one trillion, plastic bags are used worldwide. That comes out to about one million per minute! So many of these gazillion bags will end up as litter or in landfills. It helps to use reusable bags.
When planning your gift-giving can be green too. Consider giving gift certificates as presents. You will save wrapping paper, and your gift receiver can buy what they want! Buying a gift certificate from someone’s favorite store or spa can be a great gift. Dressing it up in a pretty tin or mini-stocking will make it even more memorable.
Another way to reduce buying gifts is to have family members to draw names, which will reduce the number of gifts each family member would have to buy. Also, consider giving gifts of your time or your talents. Creating coupon gifts promising chores or activities that you can do for family members and friends is great for kids as well as adults. If you are crafty, consider making some of your gifts for your loved ones.
Donating in honor of someone on your gift list is wonderful too. Donating to someone’s favorite charity or religious institution in his or her honor is another great package-free gift idea. It is a gift that will keep on giving.
Re-gifting takes some planning and great thought. Just make sure that you do not give the re-gifted item back to the same person who gave it to you! Sometimes a re-gifted item is just looking for the right home. Donating items in good condition to a local charity is a great way to reduces items like toys, games, and clothes that are no longer needed, and children can participate, which is a wonderful way to teach them to care for others.
Wrapping gifts can be green also! Did you know that if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon each year that we could take that 38,000 miles of ribbon and tie a bow around the earth? That is a lot of ribbon! Did you know that half of the paper Americans use each year is used to wrap and decorate our products?
In the US, the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons. If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks! Here are some great eco-friendly ideas for gift wrapping:
- Buy gift wrap that contains recycled material.
- Avoid buying plastic-coated paper and foils that cannot be recycled or reused.
- Make gift tags from Christmas cards from last year.
- Make gift cards—and even Christmas cards--- on your computer with a printing program.
- Instead of gift wrap, use gift boxes, baskets, and other containers that are reuseable for other gift-giving events or household purposes.
- Save and reuse gift bags and bows again and again.
- Use scarves or pieces of fabric to ‘wrap’ gifts. Newspapers and comic pages can even make fun wrapping paper.
With a little planning, we can all have a ‘Green Holiday!
For more information on reducing, reusing, and recycling, please contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.