The downside of a consumer -driven economy is the amount of waste that comes from all that stuff we buy. This year, as we start to see an improvement in the economy, we’ll also experience increased waste. Every person and family can make a difference. Being conscientious of our choices, avoiding a route though it may be easier or more convenient, and remembering that we are a part of a larger whole will all help as we move into the Christmas holiday.
Food – At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year – or over 100 pounds per person. (Use Less Stuff)
- Make a Menu Plan and a Shopping List – This cuts down on wasted food and helps to avoid impulse items.
- Eat Leftovers – Find recipes to use up leftovers or freeze and eat at a later date.
- Be Generous – Donate excess cans or boxes of food to food pantries.
Shopping – At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year – or over 100 pounds per person. (Use Less Stuff)
- Control Spending – The average American spend $800 on gifts during the holidays. The less purchased this year means less stuff thrown away in the future.
- Choose Less Packaging – Look for gifts without clamshell packaging. Say no to boxes.
- Bring your Own Bags – Work hard at making this a habit during this major shopping season.
- Shop Yard or Estate Sales, Thrift or Antique Stores – Gently used items can make wonderfully meaningful gifts.
- Put a Stop to Catalogs – If each household canceled 10 mail-order catalogues it would reduce trash by 3.5 pounds per year? (If everybody did this, the stack of canceled catalogues would be 2,000 miles high!) (by Use Less Stuff)
Travel – If each family reduced holiday gasoline consumption by one gallon (about twenty miles), we’d reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tons. (Use Less Stuff)
- Plan your Trips – Combining errands into one trip can reduce the number of miles driven. Plan to drop off packages at the post office, deliver cookies to a friend, shop for last-minute items, and pick up dry cleaning all in one trip.
Decorations – At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year – or over 100 pounds per person. (Use Less Stuff)
- Plant or Mulch that Tree – 30 million trees end up in the landfill each Christmas.
- Put your Artificial Tree to Good Use – Artificial trees cannot be recycled, so purchase one that you know will last a long time.
- Repurpose Household Items – Recover old pillows in Christmas fabrics. Repaint candlestick holders or Christmas decorations. Create beautiful mosaics from old Christmas cards.
- Wrap Gifts in Alternative Materials – Use old maps or comic strips from the newspaper or brown paper bags. Fabric makes a colorful, reusable wrapping material.
- Ribbons – 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? (Use Less Stuff)
- Use Gift Bags – Last year, I used nothing but gift bags for our family’s gifts. When all of the gifts had been opened, we folded the bags and the tissue paper and put them away for the next year.
- Avoid Gifts that Require Batteries – Instead look for gifts that run on human-power, electricity, or rechargeables.
Cards – The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year n 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. (Use Less Stuff)
- Pare Down your List – Don’t send your cards or letters to every person you’ve ever known. Send mail to a few, and then send a holiday wish or greeting by email or Facebook.
- Send Electronic Cards – There are some beautiful e-cards available for those that have internet.
What ways have you found to reduce waste this holiday season?