The Best Green Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season
Stunning statistics show just how much of our trash is generated between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Here are some ways to reduce, reuse, and think before you buy.
According to the website www.use-less-stuff.com, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!
If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Of all the websites we found, Stanford has great information for students concerned about the environment and answering questions about recycling and holiday waste. We hope that they don't mind we borrowed their tips to share with you. They are so good!
While the winter holiday season brings good cheer for most people, it also brings a lot more solid waste to the landfill, harm to the environment and additional debt to the average American family.
Here are some environmentally-smart tips for a less wasteful -- perhaps less stressful -- holiday this year:
Wrapping paper is often used once and thrown away. Try using colorful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes.
Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper.
Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows. Finally, unwrap gifts carefully and save wrappings for reuse next year.
In general, try to find new uses for gift wrap like reusing bags and bows next year. This will save some serious cash.
Tissue paper is not recyclable.
If you buy gifts, look for durable and re-usable items and resist the latest "fad" at the mall. Think of how many pet rocks, mood rings, and cabbage patch dolls ended up in the landfill!
Look for gifts with an environmental message: a nature book, a refillable thermos bottle, a canvas tote bag, a battery recharger or items made from recycled materials. Choose solar powered instead of battery powered products. Or better yet, ones that require no power at all.
Other environmentally-smart gifts include homemade ones: home baked cookies, bread or jams, a plant or tree. Ones that don't create any waste at all: concert or movie tickets, dinner at a restaurant, or an IOU to help rake leaves or repair a leaky faucet. Ones that get "used up": candles, soap, or seeds for next year's garden.
You are probably receiving piles of mail order catalogs at this time of year. Call the company's 800 number and ask that you be removed from their mailing list. Fortunately, magazines and catalogs can be recycled with your mixed paper.
If you send holiday cards, look for ones made of recycled paper. Avoid cards with glossy, shiny or gold foil coatings since these cannot be recycled. Save the cards that you get in the mail, cut off the front pictures, and reuse as "postcards" next year. This saves on postage too. Or, send ''electronic cards'' or make a phone call instead!
Clean up -
* Recycle everything you can. Break down boxes and put take them directly to recycling or use them to capture more recycling - plastic bags are not recyclable.
* Be thoughtful when cleaning up after dinners and festivities with loved ones. Reduce your use and waste of paper towels with a product like Rakot75.
* Use green products like vinegar, water and lemon to clean surfaces and make your home smell fresh
The Most Eco-friendly, waste-free gifts to give this holiday season
Certificates for Baby-sitting, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or cleaning the car.
Trips/Outings - Museums, parks, beaches, hikes, full moon walks, or winter picnics.
Hand Made Gifts...with love - Fill a basket with baked goods, assemble a collection of favorite family recipes, make a holiday bouquet from fresh greens, holly, etc. and tie with bow, make Christmas ornaments from family photos, or video tape family members telling favorite family stories/memories.
Tickets -Movie, concert or sports tickets.
Gift Certificates - Favorite restaurants, record stores, book stores, video rental stores, department stores, or grocery stores. This year it's more important than ever to support local businesses
Memberships - Health spas, swim clubs, museums, zoos, or amusement parks.
Subscriptions Magazines, newspapers, book clubs, or flower of the month club.
Financial Accounts - Savings accounts, mutual fund shares, or stocks or bonds. May seem boring but they are practical and green on all sides!
Gifts for Children - "Dress Up Box" filled with costume jewelry, scarves, hats, aprons, and ties, cooking equipment and a recipe with ingredients, blank journal or diary, blank scrapbook with scissors and tape, flower seeds and pots, or tool box and supplies to build a simple bird house.
Gifts to the Environment - Send e-greetings to family and friends who are on-line, buy a living Christmas tree and replant after the holidays, buy live plants, gardening tools, bird seed, battery charger with rechargeable batteries, bus/light rail/train passes, bicycles or walking shoes.
Donations in the name of your loved one - a real feel good all around
Visit the www.use-less-stuff.com and use the checklist to reduce your waste this holiday season.