As the shopping frenzy unfurled on Thanksgiving Day (what happened to that holiday is for another blog) I began to compose the list of things I needed to get done for Christmas, my gift purchase list, and my own Christmas “want” list.
Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, essentially 1million extra tons a week.1 If everyone made some small changes together we could considerably decrease this number.
In the madness of consumerism that surrounds this holiday season, I “want” others to consider the impact they have with the gifts they buy and the items they want for themselves.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I found some nice suggestions that I plan to incorporate into my own “green” holiday season:
- Send holiday greetings via e-mail. It’s a great way to share photos and keep in touch more frequently. I have a hard time with this one because this is the one time of year where I like to send and receive “snail mail”.
- Make cards or buy recycled cards.
- Purchase cards from a charity organization. At least your money is going toward supporting a cause. I ended up purchasing recycled card from the American Cancer Society this year because I didn’t have enough cards left from last year to make anything.
- Remind the recipient to re-use or recycle too!
- Buy a live tree.
- Buy a cut tree over a fake tree.
- Recycle when the holidays are over. Waste Management collects Christmas trees from its residential customers. Be sure the tree is cut into three-foot sections and remove any tree stands, nails, tinsel and decorations. If you can find somewhere that mulches the trees that is the best reusable plan for your greenery.
- Give no-waste gifts. Support your local community services by giving music or sports lessons, memberships to a gym, concert symphony or museum (Bankhead Theater tickets anyone?), sporting event tickets. There are free things you can offer such as babysitting.
- Purchase gifts made of recycled content. Be sure to buy durable, reusable products that will last.
- Use No-waste wrapping options. Place a bow directly on a gift; put gifts in a reusable bag such as a backpack or purse; or package small, themed gifts in a larger item – such as plates or table service inside placemats or a tablecloth or kitchen utensils in an apron or decorative dishtowel.
- Make your own wrapping paper. Use newspaper or magazines, decorating paper shopping bags or cutting pieces from maps or posters. Recycled-content wrapping paper is also available. Save bags and bows to use in the future.
- Donate old items. If you receive new items that will replace current possessions, donate them to a local charity.
- Package gifts/food for hosts in a reusable container. If the item is a gift, place it on a decorative holiday plate, in a washable kitchen container or wrap with a holiday towel.
- Use washable items. Utensils, plates, glasses, napkins and table coverings should all be reusable. Decorate with plants (that your guests may take home and plant in their yards as a commemoration of the holiday celebration) or candles. Be sure to have containers available where your guests can put recyclable cans and bottles. If you have leftover food, send it home with your guests in reusable containers or donate it to a local homeless shelter.
- Compost. Take advantage of food waste recycling services where they are offered.
Have a Happy and Green Holiday Season!
1. Waste management website. Accessed November 30, 2011. Website address – http://www.wm.com/index.jsp