Eco-tip: Here are ways to give gifts without all the excess packaging, waste
| Special to Ventura County Star
Holiday tips: Tips on reusing and recycling trash during the holidays
The holidays bring a lot of trash into people’s lives, but here are some tips on how to reuse and recycle some of it.
Because people generate so much extra garbage during a normal holiday season, contracts between trash collection companies and local cities require free extra collection of waste during the two weeks following Christmas. This provision avoids overstuffed and overflowing garbage carts, which can result in wind-blown litter.
However, free extra trash service does not incentivize waste reduction. Instead, practices like less wasteful Christmas gift-giving must be motivated by communal, rather than individual, concern.
Quoted on earth911.com, Pope John Paul II advocated for such concern several years ago, saying, “The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
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The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “saving life on Earth” and emphasizing “the interconnectedness of human life with nature,” according to its website, which also features a gift guide with four categories of suggestions for less wasteful gifts.
In a category titled “Quality time/skill sharing,” one suggestion is a customizable coupon book. With a link to a Pinterest page featuring many alternatives from creative vendors and people offering free downloads, the web site encourages users to fill-in the coupons with offers the recipient would want.
For example, parents could give their child a coupon for “an extra story at bedtime.” Similarly, kids can give their parents a coupon for chores around the house. There is even a coupon book category for “girlfriend/boyfriend.”
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In the category of “experiential gifts,” the website suggests a gift of experiences designed to “increase happiness and well-being.” The benefit of an offer to take a gift recipient to a location with wildlife is illustrated by the following comparison.
According to the website, a plush toy animal (such as a teddy bear) made from one pound of polyester generates 51 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, while a 100 mile round trip drive in a typical vehicle, to see a real animal in nature, generates only 41 kilograms.
A third category is titled “DIY/handmade gifts,” and, as with the first category, the link features many Pinterest options.
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The final category “Donation/support gifts” has some connection to the “experiential gifts” category, especially when one considers options to support local cultural institutions.
As a local example, buying someone a 2021 membership to the Museum of Ventura County, which costs $60 for an individual or family and $40 for students and seniors, not only supports an important center for history and culture, but also purchases the benefits of membership.
“We have moved all of our programs online and are producing more articles, games, lessons, and activities than ever before,” said the museum’s Executive Director Elena Brokaw.
Exclusive benefits include a monthly membership perk, such as a recent “Behind the Scenes in Hollywood with Ivor Davis” Zoom conversation, as well as the museum’s virtual learning modules, virtual tours, digital puzzles and more,” added Jonathon McGee, marketing and outreach specialist.
Membership in a local museum or other normally event-based organization also expresses hope and confidence in better times ahead. When safe to reopen, membership in the museum will include admission both at the Ventura site, at 100 E Main St., Ventura, and also the Agriculture Museum, at 926 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula. To learn more, visit https://venturamuseum.org/join-or-renew.
Perhaps this year, with fewer social gatherings, gift giving will result in less packaging and wrapping, and most people will not need to take advantage of free extra garbage service, but some additional waste is inevitable.
For example, CalRecycle’s website notes 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States, “enough to fill a football field 10 stories high.” Even if you send cards and annual newsletters electronically, your mailbox, and your trash can, may still overflow with good wishes from others.
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In local cities and unincorporated areas served by Harrison Industries during the two weeks after Christmas, customers will be allowed to set out bags next to their garbage carts equivalent to the amount of garbage service to which they subscribe.
Most people have either a 32 gallon garbage cart, which equates to two standard garbage bags, or a 64 gallon, which equates to four bags, according to Araceli Revelez, customer service office manager.
Local cities and unincorporated areas served by Waste Management/GI Industries have various rules, but the commonality is the extra capacity is designated for extra boxes and wrapping.
Cardboard boxes must be flattened, and all waste must be bagged and placed next to carts on pickup days the two weeks after Christmas. Check your city’s website or go to www.wm.com, click on “residential service,” enter your address, and scroll down to “holiday schedule” for details.
Additionally, the county and many local cities require franchised collectors to accept one or two bulky items free-of-charge per calendar year. This “use it or lose it” opportunity should also not encourage wastefulness, but curbside bulky item collection not covered by these contract provisions usually costs at least $25.
For other ideas, visit simplifytheholidays.org.
David Goldstein is an Environmental Analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency and can be reached at 805-658-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published at Sat, 05 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0000