You hear it all the time, “The holidays are the most
wonderful time of the year!” And they
are! The holiday spirit brings out the
best in almost everyone. Kids are doing
their finest Saint Theresa impression to stay off the naughty list and adults
tend to mimic this behavior by showcasing their most generous and kind
selves. The moment Thanksgiving hits,
excitement fills the air. Oh how fun are
the lights, the presents, the food, the cards, the decorations, etc.! Yet with all this fun comes a tremendous
increase in waste. Households produce an
additional 25% of waste from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. That’s an extra 1 million tons a week that
show up at our landfills! But this
doesn’t have to be the case. We can
reduce this number without reducing the enjoyment!
Not to mention the always welcomed added bonus of keeping your bank
Let’s start with that tree you pick out for Santa to
store presents under. Choose a live
one! These trees are a renewable resource typically grown
locally for the sole purpose of decorating your living room so no need to worry
about deforestation. They can then be
replanted or composted at the conclusion of the holiday season. Plastic, a.k.a. “fake”, trees are made of
unrecyclable petroleum products and use up resources in both manufacturing and
shipping. They only stay nice for a few years and, once discarded, they fill up
our landfills. Live trees smell nicer
and are more festive so it’s a win-win for us and our surroundings. So enjoy putting ornaments on a fresh tree
this season and support a prosperous environment!
Only the Grinch probably doesn’t like to receive those annual cards
showcasing your family and friends' best smiles or a warm greeting filled with
pictures of your holiday favorites. But
does it really matter how you end up viewing it? It is estimated that there are enough holiday
cards sold each year to fill an entire football field 10 stories high! Why not send an electronic card this year? Or if you absolutely can’t resist those
physical cards, look for ones made of recycled paper to send out and be sure
the ones you receive end up in the recycle bin rather than the garbage can when
you are done enjoying them. And don’t
forget to cut out their array of decorative symbols first and use them for gift
tags the next year!
Who doesn’t enjoy admiring the beautiful and joyful holiday lights that
spring up this season? The Griswold’s
home in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is enough to turn anyone’s frown
upside down so we don’t want to be a bah humbug and suggest eliminating
lights. How about using LED
bulbs? Not only will they save energy,
their efficiency will save you money!
They last longer, are durable and more environmentally friendly. Whatever lights you decide on, make sure they
are on a timer to turn off once everyone is snuggled in bed and not awake to
admire them. We bet even Chevy Chase
would be on board!
Another green tip that is both environmentally friendly and keeps your
wallet a bit fuller is to reuse your holiday decorations each winter! Better yet, invest in ones that can be used
for various holidays throughout the year so they get even more action. And think outside the gift box! When unwrapping large presents, save the
paper for reuse on smaller items.
Conceal those gifts in reusable packaging, such as previous years’ bags,
boxes and ribbon. According to
CalRecycle, if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon the amount
saved could tie a bow around the entire planet!
If you are decorating your package with ribbon, try to avoid tape so the
wrapping paper has a better chance of being reused. And it’s always best to choose paper
containing recycled content.
While we are speaking of gifts. This
is the time when older electronics are replaced by newer ones. Attempt to keep these difficult to dispose of
items out of the landfill and donate those that still have some life left. Visit public drop-off centers, like
TotalRecycle in Birdsboro, Pa, to recycle the E-Waste that has no takers.
Last but certainly not least. The
endless supply of delicious food! Our
eyes tend to be bigger than our tummies and it is estimated that at least 28
billion pounds of food is wasted each holiday season. Don’t throw it out! Use that holiday giving mentality and donate
it to a local shelter. If that’s not a
possibility, pack it up for your guests to bring home and devour once their
appetites return. In addition, while
those parties are in full swing, make sure it is easy for your guests to
recycle with clearly marked bins.
With a little imagination and minimal effort we will realize
how much we can recycle, reduce and reuse, not just during the holidays but
every day. Too many recyclables wind up
at our landfills simply because the public isn’t aware of how many items are
actually capable of being recycled.
Check out http://www.jpmascaro.com/recycling-services/recycle-collection.aspx
for a quick education on recyclable goodies!
While we are still dreaming of a White Christmas, we also
have our sights on a GREEN one. Just
making a few minor changes to our holiday routine has the potential to have a
tremendous positive impact on the environment.
Let’s keep the holiday season the most wonderful time of the year but
let’s no longer allow it to be the most wasteful!