Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Keeping it green at Christmas Part 3: Through rain or snow or sleet or hail

Just consider for a moment, how much more mail you receive starting in November. Mailboxes are packed beyond their capacity with greeting cards, holiday sales flyers and catalogs...lots and lots of catalogs. What can you do to curb this onslaught of mail?
  • Contact companies directly to be removed from their mailing lists. There is usually a phone number or address of the distribution company located near your mailing address.
  • For catalogs, simply call their 800 number or visit their website and inform them you no longer want to receive their catalogs.
  • Sign up for electronic billing and email advertisements.
  • Go to to learn more about getting off junk mail lists.
You can also reduce the amount of waste generated with your own greetings. I blogged about this on October 14th, but feel many of these things are worthy of repeating. I do go into more detail in my previous blog, so please check it out if you haven't read it.

Sending out postcards or eCards rather than traditional Christmas cards is not only kinder to the environment, but it's gentler on your budget as well. Postcards don't require envelopes and eCards don't even need stamps. With the rising cost of postage they're more attractive than ever!

At the end of the season, as decorations are being put away, don't just toss your basket of cards into the trash. Christmas cards can be reused and recycled in a variety of ways:
  • Use them to make tags for next year's gifts. Simply cut out a design from the front of the card, punch a hole through it and tie with a ribbon.
  • Make a decorative collage with the prettiest or most meaningful ones.
  • Frame a few for a seasonal wall display that can be enjoyed year after year.
  • Donate them to a local school, church or nursing home for crafts.
  • Donate them to St. Jude Ranch for Children, headquartered in Boulder City, NV, where they recycle them and make new cards. The money earned is donated to help children who were victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Visit their website for more information:
When it comes to sending out cards, sit down with your family and discuss how to pare down your list. Is it really necessary to send cards to co-workers you see every day? What about those names on your list that you can no longer put a face to? Just because you've been sending cards to them for decades, doesn't mean you need to continue to do so. Just think, if you cross them off the list this year, they'll most likely cross you off their list next year and fewer cards will bog down your mail carrier.

Rather than mailing cards to neighbors, why not create a greener tradition of hand-delivering a greeting made up of a sprig of holly or a piece of pine with a pretty ribbon and tag tied on? These green greetings can be hung on your neighbors' doors and will be appreciated more than a store-bought card.

I'm challenging you to cut your mailing down by 1/3 this Christmas season. That means sending out only 40 cards if you normally send 60. Will that make a huge dent in the one million tons of holiday-generated trash? Not really. But if you do it, and I do it, and both of us influence someone else to do it, eventually the impact will be felt. Because, like I said only takes a spark.

Tomorrow, I'll address the problem surrounding holiday parties and offer some suggestions on environmentally-friendly alternatives to disposable dinnerware.

Keeping it green,


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