During the holidays, Americans toss out 25% more waste. Two words that make the season green: Waste Not! Saving paper and packaging for reuse saves trees, and sending gifts by ground rate, not by 2-day-air or overnight, saves fuel. Both reduce carbon emissions.
*Tree-free Gift Wrap
Try not to buy readymade gift wrap, or any paper made from virgin trees rather than post-consumer-recycled paper.
Last week, when I was Terri Trespicio's guest on Martha Stewart's Whole Living Sirius Radio show , listeners called in with some creative ideas for reused, reusable gifts, wraps and cards. One woman, who grew up in India,continues the Diwali festival tradition of giving gifts of food in stainless steel containers wrapped in fabric and embellished with fresh flowers.
Another listener has her kids "shop" their basement for gifts, like forgotten but tools and art supplies. A seamstress sews fabric gift bags that her recipients can reuse. Another collects old Christmas cards from friends that don't want them and repurposes them into new cards and gift tags.
My friend Cristal wraps all her Xmas gifts in old scarves found at yard sales.My friend Lexy saves all her daughter’s drawings on butcher paper and wraps gifts in them, although how she parts with these artworks I do not know.
You can reuse any kind of paper or fabric, including newspaper, old maps, magazine & comic pages. Organic cotton dishtowels, handkerchiefs and napkins are doubly green because they're part of the gift. If every family wrapped just 3 gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45 football fields, according to Sierra Club.
Give at least one gift that doesn’t require wrapping, like a colorful bag or box (preferably made of Forest Stewardship Council certified PCR paper) of rainforest-friendly coffee, tea or chocolate.
According to the Greeting Card Association, more than 2.6 billion holiday cards are sent each year. Terri and I discussed whether e-cards are a satisfactory replacement, and concluded that, while certainly sustainably tree-free, they're also rather soulless. We're also old-fashioned enough to treasure real signatures, by hand, over virtual or printed ink.
If you’re sending out traditional holiday cards, look for those with the greatest percentage of post-consumer recycled (PCR) paper or paper that's certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as PCR or coming from well-managed forests. National Envelope and PleasanTrees.com sell holiday cards that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance to FSC standards. All of the cards sold by Cardstore.com come from FSC certified, responsibly managed forestsPaporganics offers wrapping paper made with 90 percent post consumer recycled with 10 percent hemp, a tree-free fiber, as well organic cotton holiday gift card packs. Paporganics.com. Or send electronic invitations and cards from evite.com or regards.com. Or spare forests with tree-free fibers, such as hemp, kenaf, banana-stalk or bamboo, or even recycled blue jeans, dollar bills or green tea leaves. *For greetings, Green Field (www.greenfieldpaper.com) sells "Peace" cards made from 100% recycled junk mail; Dolphin Blue (www.dolphinblue.com) sells card stock that's 50 percent PCW recycled and 50 percent recovered cotton. Decorate it with your own photos or potato or linoleum cut-out print.
Order and send gifts early, ideally at least three weeks in advance. Rush air shipping releases more carbon dioxide than standard ground delivery.
Buy from companies that use recycled and recyclable packaging (ask sales reps, or check shipping policies on company websites).Amazon.com, for instances, packages items in boxes composed of 25- to 30-percent post-consumer recycled material.
When you shop and buy local, carpool and combine errands to save fuel and emissions.
Want more simple green living tips? Subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter at GreenerPenny.com. Follow us at Twitter.com/Greenerpenny and become a fan on GreenerPenny’s Facebook page.