It is no secret that we generate a lot of garbage. In fact, the EPA estimates that the average American throws away 4.5 lbs of garbage per day. And, it gets even worse during the holidays. It is estimated that 25 million tons more waste is created during the holidays than over a typical 10-week period. That's roughly 1 million extra tons of waste per week! EEK!
In the spirit of taking small, eco-steps to help the environment, here are a few things you can do to help reduce that very large and ugly figure, get creative, and save yourself some time and money in the process.
If every household wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, the paper saved could cover 45,000 football fields -- every year!
Send e-cards instead of the traditional holiday greeting cards. They're more eco-friendly, cost a whole lot less to send and you can include pictures of the kids, your latest vacations, pets, etc. Plus, you save yourself the hassle of buying the holiday appropriate stamps, addressing the cards and getting them to the post office or mail box.
Alternatively, put your holiday greetings and family updates on your Facebook or other social networking site (did I just say that?). It will save you time, money and will be kinder to the environment. The fewer cards the postal service has to transport, the lighter their loads and the smaller their carbon footprint. Think about it...
Or, if you are a traditionalist, and you must send paper holiday greeting cards, buy and send cards made from recycled paper. This goes for wrapping paper as well. Seek out environmentally friendly recycled wrapping paper. If 10,000 people wrapped just one gift in recycled paper, 64 trees would be saved.
Wrap gifts in household items you already have or make them a part of the gift. Suggestions: Brown paper grocery bags (decorated any way you wish), reused gift bags, a hand-knit scarf, decorative kitchen or tea towels, bread baskets, glass jars, cloth bags, or kids artwork (grandparents will especially like that one).
Use old greeting cards for gift tags instead of buying new ones. Most people have a stash of old cards saved in a box somewhere. The card faces can be cut into strips and used to create gift tags. Holiday Season cards can also be saved and used for paper tree ornaments for your Christmas tree. Cards can be cut into different shapes including Christmas trees, angels, horses, bows, and reindeer.
And of course, recycle, recycle, recycle. Once the gift giving is done, be sure to save the bows and ribbons, and place the wrapping paper in the recycle bin to give it new life and safe some trees.