Q . If each American household wrapped three holiday gifts in reused materials instead of new store-bought wrapping paper, how many football fields could be covered with the paper that would be saved?
A. 5,000 B. 25,000 C. 45,000
It’s hard to believe, but EarthShare member the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) estimates that we could save 16,200,000 feet of paper—enough to cover 45,000 football fields—if we reused materials to wrap just three gifts.
While the holidays are a time of excitement and fun with friends and family, they’re also a time of excess waste. The UCS estimates that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, we generate 25 percent more landfill waste than we do throughout the rest of the year.
To help you cut waste and minimize your carbon footprint this season, we’ve put together some easy-to-follow tips with the help of our member organizations.
Get creative with gift wrap. Pretty packages don’t have to come at the Earth’s expense. Reusing materials like old wrapping paper, gift boxes and bags is a great way to extend the life of traditional gift wrap. You can also wrap gifts in old newspaper or brown grocery bags, adding cut-outs and brightly colored bows as accents. When it comes to gift tags, try creating stencils out of old paper products or using free, printable gift tags. The result: chic, unique gift wrap!
Bring your own shopping bags. A shopping no-brainer! This holiday season, hit the stores with your reusables. You’ll show off your commitment to the environment and cut landfill waste at the same time.
Substitute traditional lights for LEDs. According to the Sierra Club, LED lights use 90 percent less energy than conventional lights, and can reduce your electric bill by $50 during the holiday season. This year, consider making the switch to eco friendly decorations. You can pick up LED holiday lights at major retailers like Target and ACE Hardware.
Look for eco-friendly gifts. Did you know it takes an estimated 8 million trees to construct paper catalogs? Give your loved ones a gift card from Green Dimes and help them cut junk mail by 90 percent. Upgrade to a Premium member and Green Dimes will plant five trees on your behalf. For more green gift ideas, check out the Sierra Club’s 2007 gift guide.
Recycle old electronics. Getting or gifting a new cell phone this year? Drop the old one off at any Staples store as part of the Sierra Club’s cell phone recycling program. The Sierra Club estimates that 130 million cell phones are thrown into landfills each year, weighing approximately 65,000 tons.
Recycle your pine. While an estimated 98 percent of Christmas trees are grown on farms, recycling your pine can keep additional holiday waste out of landfills. Call 800-CLEAN-UP or visit Earth911 to locate a tree recycling service in your city.
Do you have any green Christmas tips or traditions? Share them with us in the comments!
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