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Whittle your 'wasteline' this holiday
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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The holiday shopping season has officially begun. Unfortunately, it is also one of the trashiest times of the year. In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than during any other time of the year.
I know when we’re doing our Christmas shopping, most of us are not thinking, “I wonder how much garbage I can purchase today.” However, depending on the products and gifts that you purchase, that is kind of what you are doing. Think about it: heavily packaged gifts, wrapping paper, ribbon and bows, holiday cards, envelopes, food, food and more food. Our garbage can really add up.
So take a moment and consider ways you and your family can reduce the amount of waste you generate this holiday season.
I used to be overwhelmed on Christmas morning after our family opened presents. There were bags of used wrapping paper, ribbon and product packaging everywhere. Did you know that if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon each year, we could take that 38,000 miles of ribbon and tie a holiday bow around the Earth?
And let’s think about all the food and leftovers accumulated from holiday meals. At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year. If we all put one less cookie on Santa’s plate, we could reduce his snacking by 2 million pounds. He would be much trimmer — and healthier! It is easy to see how Americans accumulate an additional one million tons of garbage each week during the holiday season.
So how can you reduce your “wasteline” this year?
• Plan out your shopping trips. To reduce the 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 a reusable shopping bag. Do this whenever possible to reduce the number of plastic bags we accumulate. Each year anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. That’s about one million per minute. Most of these end up as litter or in landfills.              
• Let your fingers do the shopping. Consider shopping by phone or online. Even local retail stores are beginning to develop Web presence. Just remember to look for items that are easy to ship.
• Purchase products that require little or no 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. You can look for items with less packaging or consider buying items that you use frequently in bulk. 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.
• Consider giving gifts of your time. When we were growing up, money was scarce so my sisters and I would write up coupons promising to do chores for other family members.
• Consider buying gift cards or making donations in honor of someone on your list.
 • Whenever possible, choose gifts that are Earth-friendly. It is easier than ever to find great gifts that are easy on the planet, too. From Wal-Mart to stores, like Ten Thousand Villages and Poo Poo Paper, gift possibilities made of recycled products or organic/renewable resources are just waiting for you to choose them. “Green” giving is quite fashionable now.
Lighten up this shopping season and lose lots of pounds ... of trash, that is! Have a merry, waste-free shopping season.
KLCB announcements that you can use to help save the environment:
• Through Dec. 31: Submit nominations for Win-dex Business of the Quarter Awards. Call 368-4888 or 368-4445, or e-mail klcb@coastalnow.net for a form.
• Dec. 26-Jan. 9: Bring One for the Chipper. Plan now to recycle your Christmas tree after the holiday.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or klcb@coastalnow.net.
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