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Christmas is almost here... try to make it 'green'
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell. - photo by Denise Etheridge

Christmas is on its way and who can believe that a new year is upon us! Working together we can all make this a green Christmas. Start planning now on what and where you are going to do your Christmas shopping. This will help reduce the amount of time, chaos, and hassle spent shopping as well as the amount of gasoline wasted driving all over the place, so plan your trips and plan what you need to purchase.

Sometimes it’s better to let your fingers do the shopping. Consider shopping by phone or by 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 to prevent shoplifting. That often translates into excessive 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 whenever possible to reduce 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 really helps to use reusable bags.   

So, how do we take the stress out of gift-giving? Buying and giving gifts is meant to be a loving gesture but the level of consumerism involved in Christmas gifting and wrapping has become excessive. How do you restrain yourself and still have a happy Christmas? Consider giving gift certificates. You will save wrapping paper and possibly save your gift recipient the pleasure of standing in one of those long ‘return’ lines after Christmas. 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. 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.

Consider making donations in honor of someone on your gift list. Making a donation 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. You can also, get with your family members before Christmas to pull together items like toys, games, and clothes that are no longer used to give to local charities. Make sure they are in good condition though. Helping children participate in this gesture is a wonderful way to teach them to care for others.

So now we have gone shopping and we have the perfect environmentally kind gifts. Time to wrap! 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 consume each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products? 

In the U.S., 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 can be reused for other gift giving events or for household purposes. Save and reuse gift bags and bows again and again. Use scarves or pieces of fabric to ‘wrap’ gifts. Newspaper and comic pages can even make fun wrapping paper.

With a little planning, we can all have a “green” Christmas! For more information about recycling or ideas on being “green,” please contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888 or klcb@libertycountyga.com or www.keeplibertybeautiful.org.

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