The Environmental Protection Agency defines recycling as “the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.” According to Stanford, Americans will throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to the New Year’s holiday than the rest of the year combined. That equals to 25 million tons of extra garbage, or one million extra tons a week. As college students, many take an interest in environmental issues because we are the future of our planet. The EPA recommends recycling as ways to reduce our waste, conserves our natural resources, prevent pollution and help sustain our environment, among others.
But how? With the holidays coming up, it can be very difficult to know where to start.
Get creative with that gift wrapping! Normally, a gift is wrapped and the happy recipient tears the paper to bits from excitement. So instead of using traditional wrapping paper, try using colorful pages from magazine, or the comic section from a newspaper. They would normally be thrown out and put in a landfill anyway, so give them a second purpose and save that wrapping paper (and maybe some money). If you want to give up the paper option completely, you can use decorative tin boxes or baskets, which are more durable and can be used again.
Avoid the “fad” gifts
When choosing a gift, look for a durable gift that will be used. If you’re unsure what someone would like, gift cards and gift certificates are good options. They get what they want, and you won’t have given a gift that would have gotten thrown away (it happens to all of us). Maybe bake some cookies, buy concert or movie tickets or even just an IOU for a service will save some space in a landfill, and give them a gift they’ll definitely appreciate.
If you decide to go the wrapping paper option, greeting card, or use other paper products in your holiday celebrations, look for recycled paper. Taking a few extra moments to search for that marking will help save space in the trash pile.
You don’t have to be a big environmentalist to make an impact on the planet. Just implementing one of these changes in your holiday routine will make a big difference. More information on recycling can be found at www.stanford.edu or www.epa.gov.