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Holiday shopping 'green' style
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Where were you on Black Friday? I was in Atlanta enjoying every minute of the wild shopping frenzy at some of Atlanta’s busiest stores.
Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — is the official kickoff for the holiday shopping season. So let the games — I mean, shopping — begin. But let’s just do it “green.”
I know that when we are Christmas shopping, we are not thinking, “I wonder how much garbage I can purchase today.” But depending on our purchases, that is, at least, partly what we are doing. Purchasing products that are overpackaged, disposable or single use items, or even items of poor quality means that eventually your hard-earned cash ends up in the trash.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than at any other time of the year. We Americans accumulate an additional one million tons of garbage each week during the holiday season. That’s a lot of extra trash.

Green tips
Here are some “green” tips for reducing the amount of waste when shopping for the upcoming holidays:
• 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 what you need to purchase.
• Use a reusable shopping bag. Using a reusable shopping bag whenever possible reduces the number of those plastic bags we accumulate. Each year from 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. That comes out to about one million per minute. Most of these end up as litter or in landfills. It really helps to use reusable bags and now it is trendy too.                                                   
I forgot my reusable shopping bags when I was packing for our Black Friday trip so I purchased one I absolutely love. It is a limited edition 100 percent organic cotton tote bag from Origins, a fantastic “green” company that markets health and skin products ( The bag is imprinted on one side: “I don’t get wasted” and on the other side: “I am re-user friendly.” I loved it so much I got three others for friends. It was really useful on Black Friday. I had constant questions about it all day.
• Let your fingers do the shopping. Consider shopping by phone or on the Internet. Just remember to look for items that are easy to ship and will not require less packaging. And, by the way, let me mention one of my husband’s pet peeves. He just cannot get over how some certain retailers mail catalogs on almost a weekly basis. If you notice this is happening, contact the over-zealous company and ask them to take you off the mailing list.
• Purchase products with the least amount of packaging. 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. Look for items with less packaging or even consider buying several items in bulk to give as gifts. Buying in bulk will decrease waste and your total cost too.
• Buy rechargeable batteries for all those electronic gifts you are giving and using this year. Yes, I know the upfront cost for rechargeable batteries is higher, but most of these batteries can be recharged a thousand times. That can be a significant cost savings over time in comparison to regular batteries. It is also much better for the environment.
• Consider giving gifts of your time or your talents. When we were growing up, money was scarce so my sisters and I would sometimes write up coupon gifts promising chores or activities that we would do for other family members. If you are crafty, consider making some of your gifts for your loved ones. I did for many years when I was younger. It was my way of stretching my meager funds so I could give gifts with greater value. Well, that is, at least, what I thought. My late sister — who evidently did not appreciate these gifts from the heart as much as some might — always referred to them as “homely” gifts rather than “homemade.” It was much easier to just purchase something for her.
• Consider buying gift certificates or even making donations in honor of someone on your gift list. 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. 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.
Green shopping is just one more way to give a gift to our earth. Go green and have a happy waste-free holiday!

Important dates
Dec. 26-Jan. 5: Bring One for the Chipper. Drop off your Christmas tree for recycling after the holidays at any county solid waste convenience center or recycling drop off site.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact me at 368-4888 or
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