During the holidays, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than any other time of year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, an additional 1 million tons of waste is thrown out each week.
If you really think about it, this makes perfect sense as we are consumers. During the holidays many of us become hyper consumers, capable of buying, buying and buying more. We buy trees, lights, wrapping paper, holiday cards, presents, and batteries for nearly every toy… and we carry home our bounty in shopping bags emblazoned with a department store name, in both paper and plastic. While it is known as the season of giving, we can still lessen our impact on the world around us, and maintain our retail therapy sessions with just a few modifications.
For those that put up a tree to celebrate the season, consider making the switch to an artificial tree. When making this suggestion, the inevitable line always follows…”I like the smell of a freshly cut tree.” If you bought your tree off a converted used car lot, there is not much life left in your tree, so the smell argument does not win. If you gathered up the family to head out to the tree farm where you get to cut down your own, perhaps start a new tradition. Head out at dusk, bring the sled, some hot chocolate and take a walk through the tree lined forest, breathe deeply, enjoy the company, sing a song, play in the snow, and if you are feeling especially spirited, decorate a tree with some edible ornaments for our outdoor friends. The smell of freshly cut spruce is fleeting, but the impact a tree can make will last many lifetimes.
This post could get ridiculously long as to how and have a “greener” season, so here are a few short and simple tips that may help lower that additional 2,000,000,000 pounds of waste we throw out each week.
• Look for toys that are powered by imagination, not batteries
• If batteries are needed, use rechargeable and dispose of any old batteries properly
• Start looking for creative ideas for wrapping paper – a child will love a present from Santa – if it is wrapped in glossy holiday paper…wrapped in old magazines…or not wrapped at all
• Christmas morning can make many family rooms look like someone had a ticker tape parade in your home – try to not just stuff everything in a garbage bag to get it out of the way as most of the materials in that bag can be recycled if you take a little extra time – consider it a gift for the Earth
• Look for holiday cards and wrapping paper that are recycled
• Give an experience, not just a wrapped gift – an afternoon of yard work, tickets to a play, dinner – give of your time, not just your money
• If you go with a live tree, recycle it or place it in your yard as a shelter for animals that could use a bit of protection from the elements
• Bulb burned out on the lights? Don’t just drop them in the trash as there are many recycling centers and retailers that will gladly take your tired twinklers
• Finally – give the gift of recycling by getting together with friends and starting a program in your area if there isn’t one…if there is a recycling program, make the call and help make our world a greener place to live
Happy Holidays and see you in 2010!