Have a low impact Y2K Christmas
Special to the Journal-World
This is the time of year when garbage abounds. The amount of garbage created increases by 25 percent compared with the rest of the year. That's an extra 5 million tons of trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's. With the celebration of a new millennium, trash from wrappers, bottles, confetti, cards and streamers is expected to increase even more than usual.
So, what can be done on a personal level to keep our waste generation in check? Here are some thoughts.
Not-so-consumptive gift ideas
- Rather than piling "stuff" under the tree, think about what friends and family really want or need. If you don't know what someone wants, give gift certificates, or make a donation in his or her name to a favorite charity.
- There are a variety of gifts that require little packaging: savings accounts, movie tickets, mutual fund shares, concert tickets, stocks, bonds and sports tickets. Or give the gift of time. Nothing costs less or means more than spending time with loved ones.
Conserve energy as you entertain
- Remember you can often rent dishes and glassware, making the party elegant and eliminating the need to buy special holiday china.
- For decorating, instead of buying ornaments, children can make their own out of items you already have around the house, or from materials they might find in the back yard, such as twigs, bark, leaves, pine cones.
- Turn down the heat before the guests arrive. Walk to neighborhood parties or carpool with friends.
- Purchase smaller lights. They have lower wattage and are safer, too. Turn off indoor or outdoor lights and Christmas tree lights when not needed. Consider putting the lights on timers so they turn off automatically.
Plan shopping in advance for good environmental and financial sense.
- Consolidating your shopping trips saves fuel (and aggravation), and you'll avoid last-minute frenzies when you won't have time to make careful gift choices.
- BYOB. Bring your own shopping bags. Paper, plastic and cloth are all good; the latter two can be folded easily into purses and pockets until used.
- E-commerce may be the wave of the future. But remember, e-commerce is not necessarily waste-free. Choose items that won't need excessive packaging for shipping. And consider sending E-greeting cards to those on your mailing list who are online
Wrapping it up
You have the presents, now wrap them creatively. Put cookies in a flower pot or hide jewelry in a new pair of gloves. Doing so will keep wrapping paper out of the trash.
- Wrap gifts in old maps, newspapers, Sunday comics or fancy holiday gift bags. Kids' artwork is a perfect wrapping for presents to proud grandparents.
- Use brown paper grocery bags to wrap smaller sized packages that have to be mailed.
- Donate toys and winter coats you no longer use to holiday drives.
- Drop off unneeded clean, dry packing peanuts at any local package shipping retailer.
- Buy an artificial Christmas tree, or get one that can be planted or turned into mulch after the holidays. The city of Lawrence will recycle trees (by mulching or using as wildlife habitat) on the three Mondays after Christmas. Place your tree, all decorations, tinsel and ornaments removed, by 7 a.m. at your regular trash pickup site on Dec. 27, Jan. 3 or Jan. 10. For more information about the Christmas tree recycling program or for other holiday waste-reduction tips, call the Lawrence Waste Reduction and Recycling Division at 832-3030.
-- Recycling Reflections is written by staff in the Lawrence Waste Reduction and Recycling Division.