by Ilene Moyher
Green does make a great gift, but not the kind of green that has dollar signs! You can give a meaningful ‘green’ gift to everyone, especially the next generation--the gift of a cleaner planet. A big part of this is keeping the less trash/less waste mindset when shopping. Everyone can make choices that will help. Unsure about this? Click here to read or watch about where trash ends up.
Whether shopping online, at chain stores, or at local shops, think about what impact the product has on the environment, and make purchases based on what feels right to you:
- Packaging of toys, appliances, and other popular gifts: Does it have minimal or no packaging, and is the packaging made of biodegradable or recycled material? Can you reuse the packaging? Amazon is just one major retailer who is addressing this. Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand for ‘greener’ packaging, so your choices do make a difference, not only in what currently goes into the waste stream, but what is sold in the future.
- Materials used: Is it recyclable or reusable? Made from non-harmful, non-toxic materials? Will it biodegrade when it’s eventually discarded? Made of high-quality to last? There are thousands of recycled-content products available.
- Gift wrapping: Why spend money on paper & ribbons that get ripped apart in seconds and then head to the landfill? A little creative thinking saves money and resources – use kid’s art, brown bags, jars, cloths, and more. It’s a quick Google search to find some easy, attractive, practical ideas. Also, try to reuse and repurpose bags, boxes, etc. for all sorts of uses year-round.
- Holiday cards: The pretty fronts of the cards make great nametags for gifts and table place settings.
- Buy used: Extending the life of existing items is extremely green, and can be very easy on the wallet. Certain items lend themselves to reuse as they can be purchased in excellent condition and easily cleaned, at a fraction of their original price. Some ideas are CDs, DVDs, video games, musical instruments, and exercise equipment. Resources include craigslist, ebay and freecycle (yes, you find things for free, and can also use it to give away stuff you no longer use).
Nobody can do everything, yet everybody can do something! Tips for all year ‘round…check out “How to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle for Kids”. Three basics of Operation Trashdown are:
- Reuse or recycle more than you throw away
- Consider product packaging – amount of packaging and whether it’s made of recycled or recyclable materials
- When buying, make choices based on where items will end up (in a landfill? recycled? a treasured keepsake? long usage life?)
Everyone can help make a cleaner earth by embracing the ‘less trash’ mindset in their shopping and daily routines. Think of something you may have already done or can start doing today. Please share your successes and ideas, and encourage your friends and family to think green in this way, as well. If each person adopts one or more habits to shift away from living a disposable lifestyle, and teaches the next generation earth-friendly habits, it will make a big difference.
Challenge: Adopt a new practice every month. Join Operation Trashdown and start today. Feel free to share these tips with your email, Twitter and Facebook pals and spread the word!
Image courtesy of InteriorDesign.net.