Each year, when the holidays roll in, we seem shocked, “I can’t believe it’s here already!” This year, before you step out to shop, attend parties or prepare for the family’s invasion, make a plan to Watch Your Waste. Did you know:
- It is estimated that in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, Americans throw away about 25% more trash than during any other time of the year — this extra waste amounts to millions of tons!
- If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
Oh, my how I love this quote from Sustainable Baby Steps: “Greening your holidays shouldn’t only impact the environment; it should also positively impact our experiences. By simplifying what we do and how we do it, we are better able to slow down, relax, and enjoy our loved ones and our celebrations.”
Here are some tips to help you ENJOY the holidays while also being aware of your environmental impact.
- First, and foremost, put shopping bags in your car! Take them with you everywhere & skip the plastic store bags! Not just grocery stores, either – any place you’ll need a bag, take your own bag!
- Toxic PVC is found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.
- Homemade food is always a welcome gift, and rarely is any wasted! Indulge friends and relatives with your favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, jams, sauces, or other goodies.
- Look for greeting cards made with recycled paper — or use “e” cards. For wrapping paper, create a unique look with pictures from last year’s calendar, old maps, or magazines. Gift bags can be reused.
- Instead of spending money on commercial goods, give the gift of your time and talent to loved ones this year. Offer to make dinner, walk the dog, help with gardening or home repairs, or invite friends over for Fair Trade coffee and tea.
- Make a donation in honor of a loved one. Choose a cause that addresses an issue that you and your friends and family members care about and support.
- SHOP SMALL BUSINESS – maintaining support within your community is so important! Instead of big chain stores, attend local craft shows, farmer markets & unique boutiques that offer products from local artisans. Not only are you getting more original gifts, but you are providing food & shelter for your neighbors!
- Refer to your sustainably and locally produced veggies, fruits and meats this season. Take a trip to your local farmers market to find out what is in season and purchase locally so you help to support our farmers and small businesses.
- Buy snacks and beverages in bulk to avoid extra packaging.
- Make homemade eggnog, hot chocolate or iced tea in large quantities.
- Do not buy individual drinks, such as bottled water or canned beverages. Homebrew tea, or purchase beverages in bulk packaging, such as gallon jugs. Set up beverages in attractive pitchers next to an ice bucket to add to the charm.
- Use only non-toxic and earth-friendly products to clean up after family and friends have left.
- Host a zero-waste party. Minimize the garbage by asking people to bring their own cups, plates and utensils if you don’t have enough of your own. Use fabric tablecloths and napkins. Then be sure to recycle any post-party cans and bottles and compost food scraps.
- Let your guests know that you recycle. So many times after a party my trashcan is loaded with bottles or plastics that could be recycled. I sit my recycling bin out & hide the trash can, that way guests have to ask me where to put their trash & I can direct them as to what goes in the recycling bin. I’ve had so many people tell me how they never knew what all could go in their recycling bins!
KNOW YOUR BIN
Be sure to know exactly what your city will recycle and then: FILL THE BIN with the right stuff!