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Am I Buying Trash?

Liz Neroni, Naturalist

This is a repost of the original December 2017 post. 

This time of year can be wonderful, but also quite expensive. All the gifts we buy can really add up. We also don’t buy just gifts; we also purchase items to cover them up. It’s a tradition that adds more cheer! And it’s always exciting to see what could be underneath the shiny and colorful barrier. However, we absentmindedly grab bags, bows, wrapping paper and cards without realizing what they are made of and what will happen to them after the holiday is over. According to the Stanford University website, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holiday season. This percentage of extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! That is a lot of trash.

So, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate how we can keep the excitement of unwrapping gifts and, at the same time, do our part to help reduce the amount of trash going to landfills. Luckily, it is easy and can actually be really fun. There are options, I promise!

Can part of your gift be the container? Reusable bags are a great gift in themselves, can be reused multiple times in multiple ways, and – most importantly – keep those one-time-use plastic, waxed covered and metallic bags from even being necessary.

A book can double as a card if you write a note in the front cover. So instead of giving something that will end up in the trash, or like me, having tubs of cards since 1994 stashed away, give something your friends can use and see on the bookshelf daily.

Giving a refillable thermos bottle is an awesome gift that is not only a solution, but also provides the person the opportunity to continue the eco-friendly mindset throughout the whole year. Fill it with goodies, add a biodegradable bow or baby hair band, and you just became the best gift-giver ever!

Can you find something around your house to use? Old newspapers are great for wrapping gifts! They’re free, delivered right to your door, and can be personalized. Giving someone a food-oriented gift? Wrap it in the Kroger’s food ad. Know someone in the family that is a comedian? Take the comics and color it. Reuse scrap paper or magazines and make some origami flowers and stick them to the outside. Using biodegradable, recyclable or reusable items is the key!   

The discount stores have paper bags, tissue paper, paper shreds, tote bags, and plain paper cards that are recycled and can be recycled again. All of those items are cheap for you and so important to the environment.

When you are wrapping your presents this year, please remember that every little thing counts. Ask yourself: am I buying trash?  

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