Some easy tips from Co-op America (I love them!) - with some notes by me:
During the holiday season, waste disposal increases 25% in the United States, causing an extra 5 billion pounds of waste in the landfills according to the Medical University of South Carolina. Plus, travelers will be logging tons of miles and creating tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are tips to help you plan ahead to reduce your waste and green your gift giving this year.
1. Don't Buy Wrapping Paper
Reuse old wrapping paper or put your gifts in reusable bags or boxes. Be creative about giving old materials new life-scraps of fabric, magazines, or calendars make great patchwork bags or collage wrapping paper. [I like to turn brown shopping bags inside out or use newspaper and decorate the packages with lovely, reusable, fabric ribbon. It's also fun to cut out letters from magazines and use them to address the gifts or write something personal. Très chic, très belle.]
2. Send Tree-free Holiday Cards
Search the National Green Pages for cards made from kenapf, hemp, and other tree-free resources. Or, send e-cards and avoid the wait at the post office for stamps. [I personally like actual cards, but I never get my butt around to getting them in the mail on time. Plus, do you really have all your friends' actual addresses? But everyone has emails!]
3. Hold a Zero Waste Holiday Party
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 scaps. [My zero-waste holiday party is coming this Saturday. I will add some tips on throwing your own later this week.]
4. Consider the Lifecycle of Electronic Gifts
Some of the most popular gift items for children and teens are electronics like computers, video games, and music devices. But the manufacturing and disposal of these items creates significant human health and environmental hazards. To learn more about the environmental impact of computers and electronic devices, check out the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. The Recycled Video Games Network is a great resource to dispose of old equipment or buy recycled games and systems for less, reducing the amount of new materials made.
5. Give Gifts from the Heart
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. [If any of my friends reading this want to gift me with dog-sitting, give me a call!! ; ) ]
6. Green Your Holiday Travel
If you are one of the many people planning to log a lot of travel miles this holiday season, don't forget to look into green options for getting around. Better World Travel Club can help you offset the carbon emissions from your travel through their Travel Cool program. Plus, Co-op America has partnered with Native Energy to help you offset your energy impact, including travel impact, fund the production of more wind energy, and generate support Co-op America's Green Energy program.
8. Buy Green Gifts
If you choose to give presents over the holidays, shop with green businesses listed in the National Green Pages. This year, a number of green businesses are offering special discounts to make green gift giving even easier. Check out our Green Gift Catalog. [Better yet, buy green gifts LOCALLY! Look for my eco-gift guide later this week.]
70% of PVC is used in construction, but it is also 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. Find safe toys in the National Green Pages™ »
10. Recycle Packaging From Gifts
To reduce environmental impacts, it is important to recycle all cardboard packaging. Also, reuse peanuts or other Styrofoam packing that comes with gifts or purchases as these items will not de-compost in a landfill (EVAH.) but can be used over and over again for packaging and shipping. The National Green Pages™ contains several listings for easy drop-off centers for both types of waste.