Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is To Save Landfill Space

All I want for Christmas is to Save Landfill Space.  Can you help?

Yes, Trash and the Holidays go together.  Think of what the streets and dumpsters in your neighborhood look like on "trash days" for the days and weeks after Christmas.  It's been said that between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw away an extra MILLION TONS of garbage EACH WEEK.  Really?  Ya gotta be kidding me.

But, then again, think of the wrapping paper we purchase just to wrap presents and then unwrap them and throw it away.  What about all the boxes we ask for from retailers - again, just to make wrapping easier, and then we throw away the boxes.  And, with all the new toys, and the ebay and internet shopping, mailing gifts to far away family members, the packaging is all just for TEMPORARY use.  Then, we throw it all away.  But, together we can make a difference!

Give it some thought. 
What ways can we save landfill space?


  • Boxes:  Instead of asking for boxes at the retailers, can you wrap your gifts without the boxes?  If you must use a box, can it be a box that can be used again - like a storage box that the recipient needs anyway? 
    • Replacing the need for boxes AND wrapping paper, a friend of mine buys Space Bags and "shrink wraps" gifts like blankets, clothes, etc., and then wraps a big bow around it!  She says when everything's smooshed you can't really tell what it is anyway! And the bags are treasured parts of the gift and are her extended family... sometimes to pack hand-me-down clothes to give back to her! (Win-win-win again!)
    • Check out the many ideas here: http://chickiedee.com/blog/2009/12/its-a-wrap/

  • Wrapping Paper:  Is it really necessary?   What about hiding gifts and creating a treasure map that goes into the stocking, allowing older kids to follow clues to find their gifts?  They might not need to be wrapped at all!

  • Packaging Materials:  Do you really need styrofoam peanuts?  Why not reuse something already on hand?  Think old grocery bags and newspaper or shredded paper from the office.

  • Holiday Cards: Must you?  Consider sending an E-card or calling with your holiday wishes.  But, if you must send cards, check out our idea under "Reuse".

Wrapping Paper:  
  • What about re-using gift bags from last year?
  • Remember in the 70's?  We used to wrap presents in the comic section from the Washington Post, or in brown paper bags. I don't know if we did it because we were poor, or what - but we did.  And, it is sounding like a great idea to me!  Plus, instead of "trashing" that paper, we can use it in our wood burning fireplaces and stoves to start fires.  So, after we've read the paper, we can wrap in the paper and then burn it for heat, thus reducing the electric or natural gas we'll need to use to heat our home.  Other examples of things you can wrap gifts in - kids school work (maybe only the ones with good grades) art projects, calendar pages, interesting newspaper or magazine articles with relevent parts highlighted, old wallpaper and more!  Be creative.

  • Forgoe the need for boxes by using ordinary "trash" as containers - like placing gifts in toilet paper or paper towel rolls, or into a plastic 2 liter bottle, egg cartons... just about anything - check out the ideas in this blog, which include instructions on how to use old greeting cards to make gift boxes:  http://familycrafts.about.com/od/giftwrap/a/CreativeGiftWrapIdeas.htm

  • If you really need a box in which to wrap something, can you use a box you have around the house, or one destined for the trash?  Richard Mielke (A REALTOR in Gettysburg, PA) has a stash of gift boxes that his family keeps and reuses year to year.  Fellow Twit CSSharp7 says her family has pre-wrapped boxes they reuse each year!  In our family, one of our best "gags" is wrapping a "new" stereo in the box of an old stereo (or a variation of this gag) - the kids buy into the gag every time and it is hysterical. 

  • Use gift bags whenever possible instead of boxes, as they are more likely to be reused in the future, and specifically tell the recipient that is why you chose to use a bag - so you'd create less trash and they'd have something reuseable.

  • When shopping, don't forget to bring along your own bags - the ones you use at the grocery store or extra plastic or paper ones you have at the house are great. 

  • Likely, you will still end up with new extra bags after your shopping endeavors.  Reuse these as packaging materials, perhaps to make your own gift bags (SEE LINK), and to carry packages when you're delivering them.  Then, when they are torn and good for nothing, move on to Recycling.
Christmas Cards:

  • Remove the fronts of Christmas Cards and attach a new back - presto magic - an inexpensive and "green" holiday card.

  • Too much work for you?  Send your cards to St. Judes and they'll gladly do it.  They are accepting cards (for ANY occaision) through February.  For more details, go to their site: http://stjudesranch.org/help_card.php  Special thanks to Lisa Rodgers (via her blog, "cactusandivy.blogspot.com") for this great idea!
  • Re-gifting and shopping at thrift/second hand stores is all the rage this year!  It's thrifty AND green - two things our society needs more of right now! 
  • Check out these ideas: (Recycled Holidays) http://www.thelovealliance.net/action/
Christmas Trees:

  • If you usually get a live tree, does it make sense for you to purchase one that can be replanted?  No space in your yard?  I bet a local school, park or other landowner would be more than willing to allow you to plant it on their property.

  • Does it make sense for you to consider an artificial one?  Make sure, of course, that you do reuse it.  Better yet, use an "extra" one someone else is no longer using.

When all else fails, at least recycle.  If you generally don't recycle, could you at least commit to recycling during the next 30 days? It counts as your Christmas gift to me, and to all your neighbors.... and to yourself.  Plus, it likely won't cost you a thing.  How many holiday gifts are free, really?

Replacing your old lights?  Check out this recycling (and money saving) opportunity!: http://www.holidayleds.com/holidayledscom_christmas_light_recycling_program
I found this great blog on what the "recycling numbers" mean.  It's a good general guide to the types of products that are usually recylcable, check it out: http://ecovillagegreen.com/2009/04/what-do-the-plastic-recycling-numbers-mean/

And, look for special opportunities to throw away live trees - they are recycled into mulch.  At least in Loudoun, the mulch is available at the Loudoun County Landfill for pick up anytime - free of charge (you haul).  Check out this blog for other examples of how trees are being recycled, and links to where you can get information on recycling trees in your area: http://ow.ly/I1zs

Also keep in mind that the plastic store bags are recyclable - but you usually have to return them to a grocery store to find the right place to leave them.  And, to find recycling drop off centers for those styrofoam peanuts check out this site: http://loosefillpackaging.com/   (Thanks to Avery Products for sharing this site!)


What other ideas do you have to keep our landfills from getting
"dumped on" this holiday season?  Please share!

And, when you see Christmas Decorations of red and green, think of THIS picture, and think how great you'd look if YOU were green. 
Then, make it happen!  REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

Thank you for doing your part!

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  1. Hey, you look good in green :) that was a horrendous pile of trash. Did we do that?

  2. Knotty - that and SO much more. I was shocked to learn that we add an EXTRA 4 MILLION TONS to our landfills in December each year. Crazy stuff.

  3. You forgot fruitcake - the most recycled Christmas gift throughout history.

  4. Forget wrapping and Boxes all together. Simply use the Big Christmas Bags and Get Kids Big and Small to use them like lucky dip bags with their eyes shut.
    Its worked for me for years and the bags just get recycled every year.

  5. Terry: GREAT! Thanks. I bet this also solves the problem of them counting the presents they got to make sure they're "even". Ugh. Multiple kids.... whos knew you could get more than one headache AT A TIME? (lol) Happy Holidays!

  6. Dear Vicky, I enjoyed your blog and became a follower; also I will refer to your articles in my blog ( www.andaambiente.blogspot.com) in Portuguese, if you allow me so.
    Best regards,
    www.twitter.com/Polychem33- Angela

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