Friday, December 23, 2011
This time of year is all about more: more love, more fun, more food, more drink, more gifts, more consumption, more waste. What's an environmentalist to do? Not love more, not eat more, not give at all? No, we just have to be smarter about want we buy and how we dispose of the leftovers.
We can use the 3 Rs to combat the massive amounts of waste after our festive time is over.
Reuse: Last year, I went to the dollar store and invested in a package of colorful paper bags. I say invested because I plan to use them over and over and over. I also bought colored tissue paper. I wrapped the gifts in the tissue paper and stuck them in the bags. I saved time and money AND the environment because it took so much less time to wrap, I'll use the bags until they fall apart. After gifts were opened, I collected them up and re-used them this year. I even left the name tags on and matched them to gifts and people again.
Recycled: Don't what to use the same bags over and over, or even take off the used wrapping paper and carefully keep it for the next year? There is super fun 100% recycled gift wrap. Green Field Paper Company is just one corporation that offers this option. Cheery snowflakes and whimsical trees are too cute to pass up. (In addition, they offer cards and tags and hemp paper, oh my!)
Recycle: Separate paper waste from the actual trash. Recycle the paper waste, or perhaps save it. Planning on moving? This is better than newsprint for dishes! Or, shredding it and saving for packing materials for future mailings. The shredded paper can also be used in an animal's cage for bedding. I know my childhood hamster would have loved this colorful confetti.
Reuse: Save the wrapping paper, bags and tissue paper for future use. I used to meticulously take wrapping paper off presents, take off the tape, flatten out the paper and save it. My family seemed to think this was more time consuming than need be. So, I rip it all off, but save it to stuff some of my purses.
What about the old versions that new gifts will replace? If still in good condition, most could be donated to worthy causes.
Reduce: Electronics, such as a tv, iPod, cell phone or a computer in working condition can be donated to thrift stores to be re-sold, or perhaps even sold on eBay or Craigslist. (Remember to wipe your drives clean before donation or selling.) Several major department stores have collection areas that will take some small electronics. Check Target, Best Buy or Staples, for example. Or, save these for a future electronics donation drive. Schools and scouts often organize electronic fundraising drives that collect electronics and essentially are sold to a third party company. Your child's school is not planning such a fundraising drive? Why not organize it yourself?
Reuse: Got new pjs, t-shirts, ties, socks or slippers? If the older ones are in good condition, they could be donated. Look for homeless shelters and relocation organizations. If not usable, cut up old clothing, flannel pjs, sheets, t-shirts to use as cleaning rags.
I recently cut up a pair of old flannel pajamas because they didn't fit anymore. Flannel is super soft, absorbent and washable. These make great rags for emergency clean up of spills and can do hard time for heavy duty scrubbing.
There is a year end Japanese tradition called oosoji "which means extensive cleaning." These rags are going to be used for my very own oosoji!
Reuse, Recycle: New towels and sheets donning your racks and beds? Donate old sheets, towels, bathmats and the like to animal shelters. Often, the budget for the care of such places does not cover luxuries like cage liners and comfy blankets. Check with your local shelters for details or check this website.
Reuse: Got a gift basket of new fancy soaps, shampoo and body wash? If you have older full bottles, they can often be donate to local homeless shelters. However, your partial used soaps can be donated too! Clean the World accepts used soaps and such, clean and distribute it to "impoverished people, prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every day." YOUR new gift could mean someone's clean hands!
Reduce: Kids got too many toys? They don't even play with all the plays they have? Research a local nursery school that might need a new load of play things, or may know a family that could use some new ones too.
This is *just a few* suggestions of how to reduce, recycle or reuse the waste from our festive celebrations. Also, don't forget the artists!! Pretty much everything I've listed here could be an art supply. Check with your local art center to get rid of some them!
How do you reduce waste? Add a comment to this blog post or leave one on the link on the Jen-A-Fusion Facebook page and pass along some knowledge to others!
The most happiest of holidays to you and yours! ~Jen