Don't let the holidays and all its trimmings and trappings go to waste.
As the holiday season gets into full swing, waste increases. Nationwide, we generate an additional 10 billion pounds of waste during the holidays. Here are some tips on how we can reduce this burden on our environment during the holiday season:
Gifts that give
Buy gifts that benefit the environment. These could include memberships in environmental organizations, handmade and homemade gifts, gardening items or long-lasting "environmental" gifts such as a solar battery charger with rechargeable batteries, water-conserving shower heads or ceramic mugs.
For kids, consider giving an environmental excursion to one of the local zoos or join the Audubon Society for the annual Christmas bird count.
Make your gift count. Nationwide last Christmas, almost one billion dollars worth of unwanted gifts ended up in storage or the waste stream.
Take a canvas bag or back pack when you go shopping. "No thanks, I brought my own," indicates one small action we can take to reduce a lot of waste! A third of all municipal solid waste is packaging. Much of this packaging is not even needed in the first place. You can help reduce this waste by only accepting additional packaging when absolutely necessary.
If you are entertaining, send invitations on recycled paper, buy in bulk, and use reusable dishes and utensils. Rent or borrow infrequently used items such as punchbowls or large platters. If you need paper products, buy products made from recycled paper. Decorate with plants, flowers and reused materials instead of plastic streamers.
The day of the party, set up convenient recycling containers for bottles, cans, wrapping paper and anything else you need. Visible containers encourage guests to recycle and remind them to do the same at home.
Use recycled and reusable materials in your gift wrapping and packaging.
Buy recycled content and recyclable wrapping paper. Foiled, glittered or plasticized wrapping paper is not recyclable. Explore different ways to wrap presents without having to buy new: Old posters, maps, paper grocery bags, newspaper and comics are easy to find. Decorative and creative elements can be applied with stamps, rather than nonrecyclable ribbons and bows. Save reusable wrapping paper from this year's gifts to reuse next year. Use air-popped popcorn or newspaper for packing and reuse your packing materials. Polystyrene peanuts (but not foam blocks) can be recycled at these Lawrence businesses:
Express Pack and Mail, 838 Mass.; Redfield's Glass Studio, 13 E. Seventh,; Mailboxes Etc., 3514 Clinton Pkwy.; The Mail Box, 3115 W. Sixth; Package USA, 811 E. 23rd; and Postnet Postal, 2540 Iowa.
Old cards can be recycled into gift tags or used as post cards. Cut the decorative top off of the Christmas card and use them as gift identification tags. Or, turn the card top over and draw a vertical line dividing the card into two-thirds and one-third sections and re-use as a Christmas post card!
Old Christmas cards can also be donated to: St. Jude's Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, NV 89005. Donated cards are recycled into new greeting cards that can be purchased by calling St. Jude at 1-800-492-3562.
When preparing vegetable platters, fruit pies, etc., compost the leftover fruits, vegetables and peels. These items can be buried about 12 inches into your compost pile or placed into an indoor vermicomposting system (worm bin). Do not compost items such as meat products, dairy products or items with oil residue. These items take too long to break down in the composting process and will attract undesirable critters to your compost pile.
If you do purchase a tree, consider a live, potted or a reusable one. If you purchase a cut tree, make sure you recycle it! Lawrence residents may place their tree next to the regular trash container for pickup by the Lawrence Solid Waste Division on these Mondays: Dec. 28, Jan. 4 and Jan. 11. If you live in an apartment put your tree beside the trash bin.
Restrictions for curbside tree-cycling are: Remove all lights, decorations, tinsel, ornaments and tree stands. No plastic overwraps.
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to save film -- and holiday memories -- is to write legibly. Each year, Kodak disposes of 400,000 rolls of film due to illegible return addresses. Also, buy rolls of 36 exposures instead of 12 - you'll reduce packaging waste by 67 percent and save about $4 or 40 percent on each roll of 36 exposures.
For more information about waste reduction and recycling opportunities please call the City's Waste Reduction and Recycling Office at 832-3030.