How to reduce plastic waste this winter
Tens of millions of Christmas trees are sold in America every year, and there are thousands of ways that you can recycle them since they are biodegradable.
Cold weather rolls in, and we all look towards convenience, and convenience often arrives wrapped in plastic. What are the best ways to manage our plastic consumption and reduce use? Here are some favorite ways to reduce using plastic this winter.
Photo by T. Rampersad
When choosing a Christmas tree this season, consider a real one. From a tree farm to your local supermarket, you'll discover it is easy to find a tree of your dreams while also helping the environment by choosing an organic alternative. Instead of regular lights for your tree, switch to LED lights. LED is more eco-friendly as they are brighter while using less energy and creating less heat. Along with changing your lights, choose glass or biodegradable ornaments over plastic. Not only will they tend to last longer, you can help be a part of waste reduction this holiday season.
Holiday Party Food
Use real dishes instead of plastic dishes. It's a better overall look and saves money. If you need more, borrow some from a friend. You can plan a dishwashing party the next day to invite a friend or two in to help you out, and bribe them with cinnamon rolls. Avoid single-serving size foods and snacks. They come bearing large amounts of plastic compared to the amount of food you get. A big bowl of treats in the middle of the table always looks generous.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Skip pre-packaged fruits and vegetables. Don’t bag them in extra plastic unless you need to. That rutabaga can sit in your cart without a wrapper, and cherries might need a bag. You can also bring your own reused or cloth bags to the store to hold produce.
In the winter, bringing a thermos of home-made soup for lunch is deeply warming, reduces plastic use, and is less expensive than eating out. Also, by not eating out, you reduce waste generated from take-out containers, which usually are made up of paper, plastic, and foam.
Today’s wonderfully warm fleece products are an easy go-to, but they are also made from plastics. You can buy fleece made from recycled plastic bottles – but they still shed microfibers in the wash, and they are not recyclable. Instead, pick warm natural fibers like wool for your cozy layers.
Photo by Miroslava
In wrapping holiday presents, check out wrapping paper and ribbons before you buy them. Shiny paper and many ribbons come with a coating of plastic. Look for gift wrap that have less plastic in their packaging. Consider reusing old wrapping paper or switch to brown paper or tissue when wrapping your gifts. Classic and festive wrapping can still be achieved without non-recyclable elements (such as plastic, glitter, and foil).
If you are a soda drinker, see if you can find a convenience store with an actual soda fountain. You can even bring your own cup at most places. This way, you refill with fresh soda and can try the mix-and-match approach to the fountain. Best is the Arnold Palmer – mixed iced tea and lemonade.
Reuse the plastics that you already have. You can reuse them as food containers, storage for craft supplies or spare electronics, and take them along when shopping. They can be molds for igloo blocks in the snow. Make them into boxes for gifts and fill them with cookies.
Photo by Patricia Valério
Work with local politicians to increase opportunities for plastic recycling. Email your State Senator about setting a plastic policy. Call your favorite company to ask them about their plastics use and see if you can suggest ways to lessen it. Airports and sports stadiums are big places for single-use plastics. As a consumer, it’s your right to ask them to improve.
When you tune into your local forecast and see the worst of winter barreling down on you, remember green – not just of summer days past, but of greening your world a bit even in winter. Winter challenges our overuse of plastics, but there are ways to reduce plastics that also increase cozy.