Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reduce & A No Plastic Yule

Today I planned to talk about the most important of the three R's. Reduce. Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess has issued a new challenge to her readers: The No Plastic Holiday Challenge. So I thought that since I signed up I would talk about both.
As I try each day to live a green lifestyle; Reducing my family's consumption is always on my mind. I do not shop everyday, that is a conscious choice. I try and shop the least amount possible. Our culture wants us to shop all the time and just feed the machine of consumption. I would hate having to go to a store everyday. So I plan out shopping, groceries are the necessity so they are once a week. Otherwise I leave shopping for special occasions or emergencies only.
Secondly, I always consider the packaging when I purchase something. If fruit is wrapped in cellophane on a Styrofoam plate I do not buy it. I rarely even use a plastic bag for veggies & fruit. The number you are purchasing does determine if you can skip the bag, but another option is to bring a bag from home, or if you are only getting two or four oranges just put them in the cart together, not hard really.
I try to never get a bag from stores. I bring my own bag, or I carry out things and keep the receipt to avoid anyone thinking I'm stealing. With a stroller its great, just pop it in the bottom and away you go. When I worked in retail 6 years ago, I remember customers in their buying frenzy paying for a gift. After they paid I would always ask: " Do you need a bag?" suddenly their eyes would clear and they would look down at the 3 or 4 bags in their hands and often say "No". I saved many bags from the landfill this way.
Sometimes even though a product's packaging can be recycled you have a more green option. An example of this is with hand soap. Liquid soap is usually in a recyclable bottle, but the energy it took to make the bottle and then to recycle it is more substantial than buying a bar of soap in a recyclable cardboard box. I will admit that it takes a long time to train your brain to think in these terms, but in the end it makes you feel that you are really doing your part. We can't all be activists, or green leaders, but we can make conscious choices with our hard earned dollars. And beyond the actual product's ethics, you have to consider the packaging's ethics as well.
Reduce is the first R because it has the most impact. In a way it is the easiest as well.
I am applying the reduce concept to Yule gifts this year as well. Amy is challenging us to avoid buying plastic gifts or gifts with plastic packaging. So along with reducing the packaging, reducing the amount of "stuff" in general is so important. Kyan is turning 1 on xmas day. This year he will have one birthday gift from us, some stocking stuffers from Santa, and a small Solstice/Yule gift. Even that amount is more than he needs, but it will keep things simple, and economical. For family we are going to have a strict budget per person and I have decided to use fabric tote bags as gift wrapping. You can never have enough reusable bags. In past years I have used gift bags. They are reusable but easy to damage and even though they are economical they end up in landfills eventually, and not to mention toxic to produce. I may even make the tote bags myself since I have lots of fabric stashed away. But I'm not putting too much pressure on myself since the holidays are such a busy time.
Yule is my favorite holiday. It has been since my childhood because my mother put so much effort into it and made everything so special and fun. Receiving gifts was never as fun for me as watching others open what I chose for them. The message behind this holiday for me is that we show people how much we love and appreciate them. We spend time together, we eat together, and we share gifts. I will post more about this season and my preparations further on. And without letting the cat out of the bag, I'll try and share my progress with the challenge as well. I urge you all to really think about your purchases this season and keep the three R's in mind when choosing your gifts.


mrsb said...

Dang, I give hats off to anyone who can do that! My kids will be getting 3 things for Xmas this year. Both boys just want video games. No way I can tell them they can't have the things they want because they come in plastic, lol.

I do try to make gift giving as earth friendly as possible. We use funny papers to wrap in or use reusable shopping bags as gift bags! The ones at my local grocer are only 99 cents and hold a lot - cheaper than the fancy gift bags that are half the size, and are a gift in themselves.

I look forward to hearing how people go plasticless for the holidays!

silverstarsanctuary said...

I was just thinking not only about the plastic they are packed in but also how there are a lot of plastic toys and plastic toy sets. I like wood toys, fabric and even metal so much better. Thanks for the reminder because it's so easy to forget when the cashier automatically puts something in a plastic bag or two or three which is too many!