Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 19, 2012

Giving Back: Be a super hero and fight holiday waste

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holidays than any other time of year. Be an Earth Super Hero — fight holiday waste!

Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you do not need a bag for small or oversized purchases.

Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper. Give gifts that do not require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.

Do not wrap oversized gifts. Hide them and give the recipient clues. Make the search a treasure hunt.

Make the wrapping a useful part of the gift: put cookies in a flower pot or hide jewelry in a new pair of gloves or socks. Just make sure that the receiver finds the gift if it is hidden.

About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away and can save money in the long run.

Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.

Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. To help prevent waste from cutting down and disposing of live trees, you can buy a potted tree and plant it after the holidays.

Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money.

When buying gifts, check product labels to determine an item's recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

Let children know that what you really want does not have to come from a store. Their time is even more valuable. Children can give coupons for their time as Christmas presents in ways such as taking on extra chores, cooking dinners, watching a younger sibling or giving plenty of hugs and kisses.

Give the gift of an experience — music lessons, lessons for a new hobby, a massage, a trip to a state park or tickets to a sporting event or play. This is perfect for friends who want to try something new but are not willing to spend the money on themselves. Plus, you do not have to wrap the gift.

Give a monetary donation to a local charity in someone else’s name. Many people feel good knowing that they are helping out someone during the holidays.

Invest in your family and friends. Instead of giving a gift, contribute to a child’s savings account, education IRA or give them a U.S. Savings Bond.

If you have recycling questions, please let me know and I will try to get answers: lgorenflo@gmail.com.