People usually are nicer and friendlier during the holidays. It is a wonderful time of the year! The downside, though, is that it also is one of the trashiest times of the year.
Research suggests that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we generate 25 percent more trash waste than usual. Just like our waistlines may benefit from paying attention to what we put in our mouths during the holidays, our environment will benefit from what we avoid stuffing in our trash bins and littering on our roadways. That 25 per cent more trash is, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, somewhere around an extra million tons of waste generated each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The Clean Air Council estimates that 4 million tons of this seasonal waste is wrapping paper and shopping bags.
Here are some tips for shopping, gifting and generally reducing our “holiday wasteline” (Note: most of these tips ran in a previous column):
• Plan your shopping trips. To reduce the amount of time and hassle spent shopping as well as the amount of gasoline wasted driving all over the place, plan out what supplies and gifts you need to buy.
• Use reusable shopping bags. Using reusable shopping bags reduces the number of those plastic bags that we accumulate.
• Let your fingers do the shopping. Consider shopping by phone or Internet. Even local retail stores are beginning to develop web presences, too.
• Purchase products with the least amount of packaging. Buying in bulk will decrease waste and your total cost, too.
• Buy rechargeable batteries for all those electronic gizmos you are giving and using this year. Also, when it is time, remember to recycle any regular and rechargeable batteries at the next quarterly Recycle It! Fair on Feb. 22 instead of tossing them in the garbage.
• Consider buying gift cards or even making donations in honor of someone on your gift list. A trip also is a great gift for that special someone. Making a donation to a favorite charity in someone’s honor is another great package-free gift idea.
• Choose eco-friendly gifts. From Walmart to companies like Ten Thousand Villages and Poo Poo Paper, gift possibilities made of recycled products or organic or renewable resources are just waiting for you to choose them.
• Help your children create gifts from their hearts. When my sisters and I were growing up, money was scarce so we sometimes would write up coupon gifts promising chores we would do for other family members. We also made homemade gifts, or as my younger sister called them, “homely” gifts. Besides saving cash and reducing waste, these are wonderful ways to help children really understand what gift-giving is all about.
• Consider giving gifts of your time and talents. You might surprise yourself with the crafty things you can make or even bake — that are edible!
• Reduce the amount of wrapping or wrap responsibly. Try to buy gift wrap that contains recycled material and 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 or use block stamps. Use gift boxes, bags and baskets and other containers that can be reused. Save and reuse gift bags, boxes and bows.
• Re-gifting is a way to help the environment. Sometimes, a re-gifted item is just looking for the right home.