Holiday waste? reduce, reuse, recycle

Here's some ideas on how to be more environmentally thoughtful for the Holiday shopping, gift giving season.

Shopping has an environmental cost, especially online shopping with extra packing and shipping cost of transporting those gifts door to door.  Did you know that 25% more waste is produced between Thanksgiving and New Year's? Be mindful of how to reuse packing boxes and materials.  When shopping, bring bags with you so you don't arrive home with so much unnecessary waste.

Recycle old wrapping paper, cards, boxes and packing materials.  I collect throughout the year and reuse.  What to do with the plastic bubble wrap shipping envelopes?  I reuse those too, either covering over the address to add the new one, or filling a box with them as packing materials.

Most wrapping paper and cards use toxic paint and dye.  I try and reuse those as much as possible. I also take last years Holiday cards and cut off the covers and find a creative way to send a "new" card to family and friends. Or make Christmas tree ornaments by cutting out shapes and holiday images. 

For wrapping paper, I save and trim off any old tape or ripped sections.  This year I used all old paper to wrap gifts.  In our family with people as far away as Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Florida, we were happy to pack our Christmas packages with boxes and packing that we reused from previous packages.  In our apartment with little space, I do break down the box and store flat in the back of the closet.  Sure I need to use extra packing tape that way, but it's better than throwing the entire box out.  so much better to use an already existing box. Imagine the energy used to take a cardboard box and turn it into a new one.  I'd rather just use the old one.

When I get those pesky Styrofoam packing peanuts I fill up a small plastic bag like one you can get at the veggies aisle at the grocery store. With an old twist tie from a bag of bread, I tie off the bag.  These small packs of packing I reuse to fill my boxes and more importantly the recipient doesn't get to open a box with Styrofoam peanuts flying all over the place. If I can't use them, then I donate to a local shipping store. 

My thoughts:

1-Reuse wrapping paper. Think twice before crunching up wrapping paper, take a moment and fold and save for next year.

2-Reuse boxes and packing materials.  If you can't reuse, find a local shipping store and donate your boxes and packing materials.  They are happy to have them.

3-create new creative cards and ornaments form old Holiday cards.

4-Bring your own shopping bags with you to the store to reuse multiple times instead of gathering more waste.

Not bad, all these gifts were wrapped with reused paper!

Sheryl Eisenberg of NRDC has a useful December 2011 Holiday guide to Reuse and Recycling

Happy Solstice,

Cathy NYCSubwayGirl