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Try to keep the landfill off your list this year.

Byline: RECYCLING By Pete Chism For The Register-Guard

The holiday season is a time of giving, caring and consumption. The idea of giving gifts is a selfless gesture to the ones you love. Material gifts given during the holidays are often much needed items that help others who need them. Other times, we often feel obligated to give material gifts regardless of the recipients' needs. These types of gifts often have short-term uses or no uses at all, and will soon end up in the landfill.

The combination of giving material gifts out of need and giving them for the sake of consumptive pressures increases the garbage generated in the United States during the holidays by 25 percent. That's the equivalent of 5 billion extra pounds of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Or, for you Duck fans, that's like filling Autzen Stadium with garbage to the top 70 times.

During the holidays, think "less is best" when shopping and give a gift to the landfill by not giving it anything at all.

Here are some "less is best" tips on reducing waste during the holidays:

Shopping tips

Give waste-free gifts such as a ticket to a sporting event; a gift certificate for a massage; a coupon for cooking a meal; music, language or golf lessons; a trip to the nearest state park; tickets to a play; a ski pass; or a membership to a gym.

Rechargeable batteries, compact florescent lights and reusable lunch kits all can save money as well as resources.

Secondhand stores or antique shops are great places to do holiday shopping.

When shopping, bring your own reusable tote bag and/or consolidate items in one bag.

Choose products that are minimally packaged. Let the store know that you are avoiding wasteful packaging.

Internet shopping tips

Request minimal packaging in your order.

Save bubble wrap and packaging peanuts for reuse. Ask a local postal agency or business if they want to reuse your packaging materials.

Wrapping tips

Wrap a gift in a gift, such as a scarf, cloth napkins or a tablecloth.

Use decorated gift boxes, festive fabrics, old maps, posters or bags that can be reused.

If you buy gift-wrap, look for high post-consumer content.

Save bows, ribbons and paper to reuse next year.

Greeting card tips

Buy holiday greeting cards made from 100 percent post-consumer content.

Use holiday cards to make gift tags, gift boxes or more greeting cards.

Make envelopes out of old calendar pictures.

Holiday decoration tips

Avoid buying disposable decorations.

Reuse holiday decorations from year to year.

Use natural materials such as pine cones, dried flowers, berries or popcorn.

Volunteering

Volunteer activities help build character and teach social responsibility, greater empathy and compassion. Teach others that who you are is more important that what you have.

Volunteer coupons are also a great way to show someone you care. Coupon ideas include: walking the dog each day for a period of time; cooking meals; offering to help shop and do work around the house; making a book of family recipes; or putting together a scrapbook or a family tree.

This holiday, use your imagination to show someone you care. When we come together to share activities and experiences with one another, we give the true gift of the holidays - memories that will last a lifetime.

Aristotle once wrote, "True happiness flows from the possession of wisdom and virtue and not from the possession of external goods."

Lane County Waste Management proudly serves the citizens of Lane County by offering services to better manage our resources, and encourages you to think "less is best" in terms of garbage. We wish you a safe, happy and fulfilling holiday season.

This column is provided by Lane County Recycling. Pete Chism is a waste reduction specialist with Lane County Waste Management.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 5, 2004
Words:635
Previous Article:Someone has built a better mousetrap.
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