Good Will to All
- When sending holiday cards, use cards with postconsumer recycled paper content. Also, be selective when mailing cards—this saves paper and postage.
- Tired of all those mail order catalogs you receive this time of year? Remove your name from mailing lists by writing: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, New York 11735.
- Decorate your home with holiday cards from friends.
- Use old holiday cards to make tree decorations.
- Use natural or edible items. Branches, pine cones, leaves, berries and gourds are beautiful. Decorated cookies, fresh fruit and holiday candy are not only attractive, but delicious!
- Buy outdoor light strands that are made with LED lights to reduce energy consumption.
- If you purchase a cut tree, find one from a local grower and plan to have it mulched after the holidays are over.
- Shop thrift, antique or consignment shops for books, accessories or other good, used items. Check around the house for usable items that you no longer want. They may be just the thing someone else needs!
- If giving battery-operated gifts, give a companion gift of rechargeable batteries.
- Give a gift from the heart. Spending time with someone or helping someone with a needed task can be worth more than a gift purchased in a store.
- Cook up a home-made treat!
- Reuse foam peanuts and bubble wrap for your own mailings, or take them to a shipping store that will reuse them. Call 800-828-2214 for a list.
- Reuse gift and mailing boxes, or recycle them at a Community Recycling Center near you.
- Give a gift to the environment by donating time, by volunteering, or money to an environmental organization.
- Make your own wrapping paper. Decorate old newspapers and grocery bags with holiday themes or use old maps for a colorful and global wrapping paper. Paper bags can also be used to wrap packages for mailing.
- For kitchen gifts, wrap a gift in a new or (better yet) thrift store dish towel, tablecloth or napkin. For bathroom gifts, wrap in a bath towel.
- Aluminum foil makes a shiny and attractive wrapping paper that can be reused and eventually recycled.
- With a warm iron, press dried flowers or fall foliage between two sheets of waxed paper; glue on a box or use several sheets together as wrapping.
- Use old holiday cards as gift tags.
- Recycle your homemade wrapping paper (newspaper, grocery sacks, magazine pages, etc.) at a local Community Recycling Center.
- Purchase or make invitations printed on recycled paper. Instead of using an envelope, design invitation postcards. This reduces the extra paper used in envelopes and saves on postage, too.
- Make an inventory of your durable plates, glasses, linens and utensils. Estimate your number of guests and determine whether you have enough durables for the party. If not, borrow some extras from a friend or relative. If you don’t want to use cloth napkins, use paper with recycled content.
- When preparing vegetable platters, fruit pies, etc. compost the leftover fruits, vegetables, and peels.
- If you’re preparing all of the refreshments, consider how you can waste less food. The ULS Report states that
- If every American throws away just one bite of turkey with gravy, 8 million pounds of food is wasted. One uneaten tablespoon of mashed potatoes adds up to 16 million pounds of waste. To discourage this waste, they list these realistic guidelines for what the average adult might consume: eggnog - ½ cup; cheese - 2 ounces; crackers - 10; celery - 1 stalk; turkey - ½ pound raw; ham, roast beef - 1/3 pound; squash, sweet potato - ½ pound; broccoli, potatoes - 1/3 pound; pie - 1/8 of pie.
- If you still have leftover food, send your guests home with leftovers. To wrap the food, reuse bread wrappers.
- The day of the party, set up convenient recycling containers for bottles, cans, ribbons and bows for reuse, and anything else you need. Visible containers will encourage your guests to recycle at your party (this will help a lot during clean-up!) and reminds them to do the same at home.
- Encourage your guests to carpool to your party. Not only does this save energy, it encourages the use of a designated driver.
Hidden Holiday Hazards
The following hints are from Hidden Holiday Hazards by the House Hazardous Waste Project.
- Angel hair consists of spun glass which can injure eyes, skin, and the digestive tract when swallowed. Keep out of reach of children.
- Bubble lights contain liquid substances such as alcohol or solvent. Beware of burns and broken glass if a child bites into a bulb.
- Holiday tree ornaments: Family heirloom and antique ornaments can be dangerous if a small child eats pieces of flaking paint since these paint chips may contain high amounts of lead. Keep these ornaments high on the tree and away from children.
- Snow sprays are composed of wax and various chemicals. Ingestion of small amounts is generally not a serious problem. Inhalation of the propellants and solvents or spraying in or near the eye may cause severe problems. If you use this product follow label precautions carefully.
- Holly is very appealing to children, but ingestion can make a child very sick. If you suspect your child has eaten some, contact the Poison Control Center immediately. (See number below.)
- Mistletoe is very poisonous. If you suspect that someone has ingested some, contact the Poison Control Center immediately. (See number below.) To be on the safe side, consider purchasing fake, reusable mistletoe.
- Poinsettias may cause varying degrees of irritation to the mouth or discomfort to the stomach if swallowed. The plant’s sap is also known to cause some slight irritation to the skin of some individuals.