two thousand twenty
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SUBMITTED by Marjorie Torelli (23-Nov-2011)

Ready! Set! Shop! Pressure to get out and purchase gifts large and small is intense this year with stores opening on Thanksgiving day or late Thanksgiving night so that no one can comfortably lean back in a chair and digest. Perhaps that is the point. By not allowing us to “digest” and process, retailers are pushing our buttons even harder and earlier for the Christmas season.

However, by taking a deep breath and making a plan, each of us is able to manage the season and stay within our budgets. By planning, we are also able to keep environmental principles at the forefront. Just keep in mind the long-familiar mantra, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Creatively implementing the tri-part environmental command can help to make the holiday season less stressful, more economical, and very satisfying. What could be better than doing lovely holiday things for loved ones and still maintaining one’s principles.

Reduce is always first. According to government estimates, each of us throws away around four pounds of trash every day. Much of that is packaging. While it is difficult to avoid some packaging, we can encourage manufacturers to reduce their use of plastic and cardboard by selecting items with less packaging. One of the most obvious choices, although it seems minor, is to avoid choosing produce that is shrink-wrapped in plastic. This is especially unnecessary for fruit and vegetables that are peeled before eating, but washing any produce will remove harmful chemicals and dirt. Even avoiding placing vegetables in the convenience plastic bags provided by the store will reduce some waste. Of course using our own shopping bags reduces the huge number of plastic bags produced, used once and then discarded each year. It’s really the first line of reduction for all shopping trips.

Reuse is the second part of the environmental mantra. So many possibilities arise for reuse. One is for family gatherings. While the Norman Rockwell picture still lives in our heads with the family gathered around a dining room table with the best china displayed, many families are far more casual and the gathering takes on the aura of an indoor picnic. Even with concerns about small children, crowds and confusion, by using durable, washable plates and glassware hosts are able to reduce throwaways without endangering “the good stuff.” A one-time investment will result in years of less waste.

Wrapping gifts is another wonderful opportunity both for reuse and very special presents. One option is to find and reuse a decorative container, even a cookie or popcorn tin, imaginatively repurposed to hold clothing or a hint about where to find a large item like electronics or a bicycle. Another option is to use cloth ribbons and dried or silk embellishments that can be saved and reused year after year.

Finally, of course, is recycling. The packaging from food, wrapping paper, greeting cards, and – don’t forget – all those advertising flyers can and should be recycled. The only exceptions are wrapping paper and cards that are metallic. More importantly, if new electronics under the tree mean that old computers, televisions, and other equipment are being replaced, recycling options are convenient and abundant.

One part of recycling that many people neglect in the winter months is composting. All those vegetable and fruit scraps from preparing holiday treats can still be composted, even outdoors in the cold weather. If you have a compost pile already started, just continue to bury the scraps under the leaves and dead plants from last summer’s garden. If you don’t have a compost pile started, you can still pull together some leaves, make a pile and bury the kitchen scraps. Coffee grounds and tea bags can still be added as well. If you would like more information or ideas on “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,” for the holidays, please contact the Western Finger Lakes Authority, 315.946.7650 or mtorelli@co.wayne.ny.us.


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1 Comment to "Shop Thoughtfully this Christmas Season"

  1. Gerry Benedict Said,

    Some very good recommendations! I am currently reading Plastic Ocean by Charles Moore -a sea captain calling our attention to the massive gyre of plastic in the Pacific ocean. His comments on the rise of plastics since the 1960's and our ever increasing consumption excess packaged good is thought provoking!
    I am currently weighting all of our solid waste to actually see how many pounds of trash our life style contributes to land fills.
    Think globally and act locally!
    Gerry Benedict

    Posted on Thu Nov 24, 06:36:00 AM EST


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