If it is a typical holiday season in California, we will throw over 8 billion bottles and cans in the trash instead of the recycling bin. In a time of economic concern, it behooves one to acknowledge that taking the time to consider the environment, in the forms of reducing, reusing, and recycling, can significantly reduce the weary spender’s costs. So, before the presents get appropriately ripped open- before the packaging is gouged open, or the gift discreetly kept in the box for the stealthy return- please consider the following facts and tips. They might help ease the holiday strain on your pocketbook and the environment.
~ An average California household throws away over 34 pounds of plastic water and soda bottles each year.
~ Every 90 days a recycled aluminum can makes its way back on the shelf as something useful.
~ 80-100 years – That’s the lifespan of an aluminum can that gets tossed into the trash instead of a recycling bin.
~ 700 years – That’s how long a trashed plastic bottle will sit in a landfill, taking up space, refusing to degrade.
~ 1 Million Years – Put a glass bottle in a landfill, and that is how long it will sit there doing nothing. Recycle it and it can live forever.
Products Made from Recycled Bottles and Cans:
Plastic – Recycled Material Products Made from Plastic Bottles:
T-shirts: Fourteen 20 oz. plastic bottles yield enough fiber for an extra-large T-shirt.
Carpet: It takes 14 20 oz. plastic bottles to make one square foot of carpet.
Fleece Sweater: It takes 63 20 oz. plastic bottles to make a sweater.
Jacket Fiberfill: Fourteen 20 oz. plastic bottles yield enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.
Sleeping Bag Fiberfill: It takes 85 20 oz. plastic bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.
Glass – Recycled Material Products Made from Glass Bottles:
New glass containers
Decorative home decor
Aluminum – Recycled Material Products Made from Aluminum Cans:
Decorative home decor: bowls, vases, etc.
No-Waste Gift Giving Ideas:
Not sure what to get someone? How about a gift certificate? That way, you know the gift will be kept.
Make gifts. Everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal or baked goodies.
Consider non-material gifts. Tickets to a sporting event, movie, play, or concert are a real treat. Make a charitable donation in someone’s name.
When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags.
Think durable! Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often, a cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable equivalent.
Always remember to look for items made with recycled content.
No-Waste Gift Wrapping Ideas:
Wrap the gift in a drawstring bag and use an inexpensive luggage tag for the gift tag.
Decorate oversized gifts with just a bow that can be used again.
Put toy animals in a cowboy hat and wrap a cowboy scarf around it.
Use a jewelry box for some flea market ‘jewels.’
Use a knit hat to wrap a small gift. Close the hat with a barrette or a decorative hat pin.
Games or toys for a child can go in a new backpack or designed pillowcase.
For a person who is handy, wrap a gift in a toolbox.
Put blouses and other gifts in decorative hat boxes and tie with a hair ribbon.
For the sewing enthusiast, wrap a gift in a fabric remnant and tie it with a piece of lace or ribbon.
Any kitchen gift can be wrapped in a colorful dish towel. Kitchen utensils can pop out of an oven mitt.
Place home-baked cookies in a reusable tin box, a kitchen container, or a decorated oatmeal box.
Use a colorful tablecloth to wrap dishes or dining room gifts.
For a reader, wrap a book in a reusable canvas shopping sack.
Wrap tools for a gardener in the pocket of an apron, planter, or bucket.
Hang earrings, bracelets, or necklaces right on the Christmas tree, or put them inside or around an open ornament.
Search the flea market, garage sales, and thrift stores for interesting old boxes that can be used as decorative packages.
Search the attic for old family photos and mementos and give them to your favorite relative, wrapped in Grandma’s old hat and a lace curtain.
By Jennifer Arbuckle