Think about helping to save the planet by going green for the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to give up the sparkle and color that define the season, but think about ways to cut down on waste this holiday season.
According to experts, Americans throw away about five million extra tons of trash between Thanksgiving and the first of the year — which translates to about 25 percent more than at other times of year!
That’s a lot of boxes, wrapping paper, and packaging, not to mention, food, decorations, and greenery.
What to do? Here are 10 good ideas -- and many will save money, too.
- Carry your own bags when you shop. These might be reused shopping bags or canvas tote bags.
- Consolidate bags as you shop. Offer to tuck newly purchased items in bags you are already carrying when you go from one store to another. Ask the clerk to use the minimal amount of packing paper.
- Plan your shopping wisely so that you can park in one lot and walk to a number of stores. Set aside blocks of time to shop, rather than dashing out for this and that. Plan a shopping trip on the way home from work. This will cut down on gasoline consumption.
- Buy wrapping paper, ribbon, and greeting cards made from recycled materials.
- Wrap gifts in wrapping paper saved from last Christmas, in brown paper bags decorated with pretty ribbon, or in cloth sacks. Other ideas for wrapping paper are comic pages from newspapers, pages torn from magazines, scraps of wallpaper, pieces of fabric, and colorful tissue paper saved from other gifts.
- Cut up last year’s Christmas cards to use as gift cards this year, or to decorate packages.
- Take a walk in the woods to find pine cones, small snips from evergreen trees, and dried grasses to decorate packages.
- Consider sending ecards rather than snail-mail paper ones. If you buy greeting cards, do not buy those made from material that is not recyclable.
- When you buy the Christmas tree, bring rope along to tie it to the car. Ask the merchant to forgo the plastic webbing he has on hand to pack it.
- If your town or city picks up Christmas trees for recycling, be sure to put yours outside in time. Drag it out wrapped in an old sheet or tarp — don’t use the plastic bags sold to contain the tree as you remove it. The sheet will protect the inside of your house from dropped pine needles.
If each family who celebrates the holidays in the United States wraps just three presents in re-used materials, estimates are that we will save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Whoa! It makes sense to think green.
So, have a green holiday and be nice to Mother Nature!