Sing this refrain to the tune of "Jingle Bells": "Recy-cle, Recy-cle; Recycle through the holiday!"
Recycle, reuse, refrain from unnecessary purchases and make-your-own are the bywords to keep the holidays environmentally correct, according to two Kansas University groups that have printed tips for "How to Have a Green Holiday."
Representatives of KU's Environs Club and the KU Recycling Task Force note, "The holiday season can be one of the most exciting but also most wasteful times of the year."
Their "green holiday" tips include ideas for trees, decorations, cards and gift wrapping, parties and gifts.
Trees Buy a potted or balled tree to plant later, or buy an artificial, reusable tree. Cut trees also are recommended with the suggestion that they be recycled and mulched for landscaping wood chips. Another idea is to decorate an outdoor tree not only with sturdy ornaments but also with popcorn garlands that birds can nibble.
Decorations Buy reusable ornaments, make your own with glue and glitter, put a timer on the lights, and use tinsel garlands instead of tinsel icicles, which hinder tree recycling.
GIFT wrapping Use reusable containers such as paper bags or boxes, and recycle "trash" such as coffee cans or planters, old newspapers, posters, wall calendars or last year's Christmas cards (to decorate paper bags).
Or make gift wrapping or tie an additional gift with such items as scarves, towels, string or canvas bags, plastic containers, hair ribbons, shoe laces or belts.
Recycled wrapping paper is sold in some markets. Finally, "if you don't buy recycled wrapping paper, at least look for the recycle symbol on the paper you buy." After using it, put it in the recycling bin, rather than the trash."
Gifts Make sure the gift will be used and reused or consumed, the student groups advise.
THESE gift ideas may not be frankincense and myrrh, but they can be useful to the recipient and the environment, according to Pam McElwee, Environs coordinator, and Kris Gottschalk, task force coordinator. Both are Lawrence seniors.
When possible, give a homemade creation with a favorite recipe, or make a gift by recycling. Recycling household "trash," for example, can produce magazine holders from laundry detergent boxes, terrariums from glass juice jars, bird feeders from old milk cartons.
Gifts that may ultimately save energy or water include rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent bulbs or low-flow shower heads. Some of these items may be initially expensive but will save the recipient money over time.
Other suggestions include gift certificates for auto tuneups, warm clothing such as wool socks or thermal underwear, or memberships to environmental organizations. Local groups suggested were Kansas Land Trust, Lawrence; the Land Institute, Salina; and the Kansas Natural Resource Council, Topeka.
PARTIES Consider renting dishes, glasses and cutlery rather than using plastic or paper goods. Also consider renting potted plants from florists for decorations. Recycle junk mail and last year's calendars to make paper chains and confetti. Encourage guests to car pool. Before you buy new clothes for any event, try local thrift shops, vintage shops and flea markets for fashionable retro gowns, shoes, jackets and ties as fashion alternatives.
At KU, McElwee and Gottschalk are coordinating the collecting of cut Christmas trees that students may leave when they go home at semester's end. The trees will be distributed to local families who want a cut tree but cannot afford one. After the holidays, Environs and the task force representatives will re-collect the trees from the families to be recycled as mulch by the city of Lawrence.
THE GROUPS also are conducting a Care and Share program to collect reusable items students may discard, such as school supplies, clothing or small appliances. The items will be distributed to local agencies serving needy people.