Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Green thoughts

I think I'm going with lists this week. Today's list is from an article I did yesterday. Think green, people!

A quick tour through the internet to websites like Earth911.com, about.com and Yahoo Green can garner plenty of information about the consumer impact on the environment. Here are some less than festive facts:

  • Americans use over 380 billion plastic (polyethylene) bags per year.
  • Americans throw away approximately 100 billion polyethylene bags per year.
  • It takes 1000 years for polyethylene bags to break down.
  • Plastic bags do not biodegrade, they photodegrade, which means they slowly break down into smaller and smaller bits that can contaminate soil and waterways.
  • In 2007, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 360 pounds for every person in the United States.
  • Each American sends about 300 pounds of packaging to the landfill every year.
  • Each year, Americans throw out almost 180,000 tons of batteries.
  • Batteries are comprised of heavy metals, which include nickel cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride and lead acid. These can threaten our environment if not properly discarded or handled.
  • Many toys are made with Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC #3 plastic, which is often difficult to recycle.

So here are my green tips that with a little less fuss this season you can be good to the environment and your bottom line:

  • Make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to this season.
  • Set a budget and a time frame for holiday spending. Knowing exactly how much you can spend and that you will have it all done by a certain date can cut down on the stress of the season.
  • Look at the sales fliers in the paper and search websites for the best prices. Make a plan of what you can buy online and what can be purchased in one-stop shopping trips to the mall or shopping centers.
  • Make a budget for special holiday cooking and make lists of what you’ll need. The key to making this work is sticking to the budget and following your list.
  • Take reusable cloth shopping bags wherever you go.
  • Recycling doesn’t just have to mean your plastic, glass and paper. Try shopping children’s resale shops for toys and games. Often you can find barely used or even brand new items. It can also be a good way to make a little extra money, too, by recycling gently used toys, games and clothes.
  • Consider that perhaps a special outing can be more meaningful than a present and is certainly something that comes with less packaging.
  • Be creative with gift wrapping by using cloth bags, hand decorated paper bags for wrapping paper, or even make part of the gift the wrapping.
  • Batteries can be a safety hazard as well as an environmental hazard. It might be a good idea for the well being of your little one to skip the loud electronic toy (It may be good for your well being, too).
  • When it comes to the must-have electronics for older kids, try to use rechargeable batteries.
  • Turn decorative lights off during the day and at bedtime to save energy.
  • After the holidays, recycle your Christmas tree. Usually they use the trees for mulch, so your holiday spirit is recycled into the New Year.