Beyond Holiday Waste

 

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This time of year can overwhelm the meaning it holds for you.

Christmas is a date set by fourth century Roman bishops to remember the birth of Christ and Christianise the pagan populations.  It extends to King’s Day.  Fires are lit all around the world to celebrate the winter solstice,  Yule is a historic Germanic festival,  Nordic trolls, gnomes and elves require food, presents and kindness in trade for good behavior,  Boxing Day recognizes the workers, Kwanza honors African heritage with feasts and gift giving,  Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of their Holy Temple .

Traditions like Santa and Christmas gifts became part of many modern celebrations.  In early times, presents were a symbolic exchange referencing Nicholas, the gift-giving Saint and honoring the Three Wise Men who selflessly provided for Mary.  The 1820s shop owner saw cash value in the festive traditions.

Santa wore a green coatChristmas myths such as Santa are a more modern tradition. Illustrated by Victorian Father Christmas loaded with gifts. until Coca Cola made it Coke red!  America alone uses 38,000 miles of ribbon, enough to tie a bow around the entire planet, 2.65 billion Christmas cards or the equivalent of a football field 10 stories high, and enough wrapping paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Black Friday became a race for retail.  Trees strapped atop cars race down the highways destined for lights and decor.  http://www.use-less-stuff.com/ULSDAY/42ways.html

This is the season to bring family, friends, traditions, and memories to your festivities and make sustainable choices that keep the joy in all of our Holiday Seasons.

Holiday decorations are a great way to honor your old traditions and make new ones.  Nothing beats the unwrapping of the ornament and the retelling of its story every year.   What an amazing idea to put them on a tree filled with lights!   So, put your LED dual strung Christmas lights on timers and save electricity.   Thrift stores, flea markets and local charities take and sell decorations.  Make your own from photos, memorabilia, nature and found objects.

Live trees from a local grower who matures and harvests trees responsibly can be replanted.  Imagine!  Our planet full of forests because we all purchased and replanted a live tree every year!  Wow!  There are numerous second hand reusable trees out there looking for good homes.  Your sanitation department can guide you on recycling your tree at the end of your holiday.  Trees can be formed out of just about any material. http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2009/12/03/18-clever-christmas-trees-created-with-recycled-materials/

Getting Holiday Cards is a treat.  They can be made with high recycled content, they can be one-sided so they save 50% of the paper, they can make gift tags next year, they can become tree ornaments, they can be art and they can be paperless.  Photo cards are great to get and they document the years gone by.

We all love the feeling of joy when someone genuinely considers who we are and presents us with a gift to show it.  Gifts can be consumable, they can be services, they can be eventful, they can be charitable, they can be personalized, they can be shared, they can be refillable, they can be memberships, they can teach, they can be recordings of your stories, they can fund the future, they can actually exist without needing power, and they can make wonderful traditions. Consider the life of your gift as well as its recipient.

I take a special pleasure in a beautiful and creatively presented gift.  Even the sight of it under the tree makes me happy with childlike anticipation. That doesn’t mean it has to join the other big holiday waste culprits.  Reuse shopping bags, wrapping paper, newspaper, magazines, ribbons, bows, sprigs of live evergreen,  a favorite T-shirt or textile, metal tins, baskets, jars or anything that expresses your genuine feelings.   It can be responsibly made, include high recycled content and be recycled afterward if its not glossy, foiled, glued or plasticized.  It can even be unwrapped and hidden.

The Holiday Meal is my favorite part.  The planning, the smells, the tastes, the gathering around the table, the traditional stories and the new additions are all part of creating our memories.  I come from a big family so lots of food means lots of joy.  To avoid the 40% increase in wasted food this time of year, follow recipes, plan the meal, shop locally, share the cooking, send your guests home with leftovers to extend the joy another day, donate excess food to emergency or homeless shelters, (in New York, we often drive by a less fortunate person who could use a good meal), use real dishes and cloth napkins.

Holiday shopping is an adventure in itself.  The decorations, the music, the hustle and bustle, the seasonal markets and bizarres.  Take your reusable shopping bags!  Consider gifts like candles, soap, or seeds that don’t create any waste at all.  Recycle all of those catalogues or call their 800 numbers to get removed from their lists.

Celebrate the greatest gift for all of us…Earth!

How You Can Help:

Until next week,

Garbage Girlimages-4

 

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