The holidays are a time of giving and a time of wasting. Between Thanksgiving and the end of December, the amount of trash Americans throw away increases by 25 percent.
The harsh reality is that this spike in trash wreaks havoc on the environment as well as on our pocketbooks, when in some cases it doesn’t need to.
As the holidays approach, consumers could make a difference to the environment by: Stop wrapping, start bagging: It may be tradition to wrap gifts in pretty holiday wrapping paper, but it’s a waste of resources. Its only purpose is to keep a gift a surprise, but after the holidays and all the gifts have been stripped of their wrappings, trash cans start bulging with the waste. Reusing wrapping paper is difficult since it tends to get demolished when excited loved ones rip it away to get to the prize inside.
Instead of wrapping presents, invest in some festive gift bags you can re-use. You can go through several holiday seasons with the same bags and less trash. For people with children who are impatient to know what their gifts are before Christmas comes, try lacing the bag shut with ribbon and stuffing the bag with tissue paper to keep them from peeking. Simple decisions such as how you package your presents can dramatically cut down on the amount of trash thrown away.
From snail mail to e-mail: While the Christmas card business would have you believe that a card can make or break your holiday season, Christmas cards are fairly useless and generally unwanted by the recipient. Beyond that, they just add to the already growing pile of waste in recycling and trash bins.
Sending holiday wishes can be done in a more eco-friendly and pocket-friendly way in the form of e-cards. E-cards can be customized and sent to people’s e-mails, for free. Not only that, but it takes the guesswork out of when or if the person receives it. You can opt to receive e-mails telling you when the person you sent the e-card to receives it, and even when they open and read the e-card. If you’re worried that e-cards will keep you from getting the money some cards come with, then teach grandma how to transfer money to your bank account while you’re showing her how to send e-cards.
Quality, not quantity: Americans are known for their love affair with food, and the holidays tend to coax even the smallest appetites to gorge. Oftentimes, meal plans lean more toward the extravagant side and even with guts busting, food is left over and invariably thrown away. Instead of weighing down the table with too much food, cook the basic foods that are favorites in your family. Cook enough so everyone is satisfied, and if there are leftovers, they’re more likely to be eaten if they’re favorite dishes. If family members insist on bringing their less-than-appetizing culinary experiments to family gatherings, then try using the family dog as a disposal service rather than weigh down the trash can with food.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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