Holiday shoppers are expected to spend about $682 billion dollars this year or close to $1,000 per family. About 60% of these purchases will be made online. Forbes magazine says gift purchases peaked in 2007, with 23 individual gifts. This year folks will buy about 15 gifts. Americans create 25% more trash equaling about 4 million tons of waste during the holidays.
Here are some ways to reduce both your spending and your impact on the environment:
Choose a living Christmas tree. You can use the same tree in a container for four to seven years, then plant it in your garden. With all the dead and burned trees, this is a great way to help reforest our area. Our local nurseries sell live trees. You can also order them on line, delivered to your door.
☆ Ornaments made from wood, metal or cloth last longer than plastic or thin glass.
☆ LED lights last up to 10 years, and save about 90% on power costs. Replace bulbs in your light strings rather than throwing the whole strand away. Use timers, available at our local hardware store, for best efficiency.
☆ Shop locally. We have an abundance of gift shops in our area. Support them! Choose sustainable materials for your gifts, such as organic cotton, silk, wood, beeswax candles, and other natural, renewable materials. These items support our local farmers and crafters. They have more character than plastic (which lasts forever in the landfill).
☆ Handmade gifts come from the heart and bring the gift of you to the recipient. They are more likely to be kept as a treasure rather than put in the next garage sale.
☆ Gift wrap doesn’t have to be paper, torn off and thrown into the trash. Make your own gift bags from fabric left over from other projects, add a ribbon to close it, and a tag to "please reuse" it. Eco friendly websites abound to buy reusable wrapping bags for the less crafty among us. These bags work for gifts all year, too. Use last year’s greeting cards to make gift tags.
☆ Decorate with nature. Pine cones, bird nests, twigs, and many other items make fun and interesting decorations indoors and out. Go for a nature walk with the kids and pick from nature’s bounty to make homemade décor. Create a centerpiece for your holiday feast from pine boughs, flowers, and beeswax candles.
☆ Include locally grown vegetables from local farmers markets for your holiday meals. Now is the time to use your china, silverware, and cloth napkins, and avoid the disposable plastic and paper. Ask your guests to bring their own place settings, and mix and match them on your table. Make homemade eggnog, hot chocolate, and iced tea in pitchers to set on the table, and keep individual plastic bottles out of the recycle bins.
☆ After dinner run only full loads of dishes in the dishwasher, and wash tablecloths and napkins with other laundry.
☆ Most importantly, have a wonderful holiday season.
Keep Our Mountains Beautiful (KOMB) celebrated a successful year of trash pickup in our Mountain area and recently honored Judy Linda Horn for her dedication and service. For information on joining KOMB contact Sandee Scott at (559) 760-1058 or firstname.lastname@example.org.