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‘Use Less Stuff Day’ creates dream of green Christmas

Thursday, Nov. 20, one week before Thanksgiving is the eighth annual “Use Less Stuff Day” to raise awareness to the amount of garbage produced during the holiday season.

The initiative also focuses on recycling as part of waste management by focusing on ways to reduce and reuse items.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], Americans increase waste by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The amount of waste amounts to an additional one million tons of waste heading to landfills each week. According to the experts, changing a few habits goes a long way toward making Christmas a little more green.

“Holidays are one of the busiest and heaviest waste times of the year. It’s amazing how much we waste when we get together,” said Michael Patton, executive director of The Metropolitan Environmental Trust.

The Oracle is pitching in with a few ideas to help reduce the waste.

Creative wrapping saves dollars and trees.
Wrapping paper is often useless after one use and difficult to recycle because it contains plastic and foil. Countless hours are wasted on precision folding and taping when more eco-friendly and time-saving methods like bags and tin boxes exist.

If parting from the paper tearing tradition is too much to bear, use recyclable paper like magazines, old maps or newspapers like this Oracle [yet another great service provided].

“Cereal boxes are perfect for sweaters, and once I used a macaroni box that was perfect for a pair of gloves. I even used one gift, a scarf, to wrap another gift,” said Patton.

Who needs Eagle Bucks if there is leftover turkey soup?
The fear of not making enough food for festivities is a serious cause of extreme food waste during the holidays. The other cause is improper storage of potential leftover meals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than going to eventual waste.

When giving food as a gift, take into consideration the shelf life and pursue making longer lasting food gifts. Learn to repurpose food into soups or other meals.

Recycle old electronics for cash.
Batteries, cellphones and game consoles can be recycled for store credit at Best Buy, Radio Shack and Staples.

According to the EPA, recycling one million laptops will save the equivalent of electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year. For every one million cell phones recycled, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

The gift of creative giving keeps on giving.
Some gifts require little or no packaging. The gift of your time whether it be cooking, babysitting, gardening, a charitable donation or tickets to an event can be far more valuable to a loved one.

“The best time of year to buy a tree as a gift is December and January, and it is perfect as a family gift. Wooden blocks for toys are great for children,” said Patton. “Cloth napkins are great for someone you do not know well. It will add a touch of elegance to their life and save paper. Steel pots and pans, Pyrex glass containers and other storage containers are also great gifts.”

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