5 ways you can help our environment and save money for the holidays

Can you afford an extra present for the person on your list this year? You may want to go for it, because that person may just turn into another unwanted material item at the end of the holiday season. This old adage is backed up by a new study that shows that one in five e-waste (electronics and appliances) trash is from holiday shoppers. On average, Americans buy about 42 gifts every year, but they also buy about nine new and used electronics — many more than the survey revealed.

If that sounds alarming, consider this: an estimated 27 million tons of e-waste will be dumped in landfills each year — one mountain of it every five seconds. Plus, there’s evidence that people who reuse cellphones are more likely to come from countries where electricity access and corruption are less plentiful than in developed countries, so reusing an old, broken iPhone will result in the recycling of 51 percent of the last sold manufacturing cost.

To assist you in protecting yourself against the gray market and possibly hurting the environment, here are five items that will make a wonderful gift and won’t accumulate behind a TV in the living room over the next month or two. And, believe it or not, these items can be found at places such as Hobby Lobby, which is also certified organic.

Add some sustainability to your shopping this holiday season.

Buying certain types of toys or wrapping paper that have been certified with a gold standard for social and environmental stewardship aren’t just the right thing to do — they can also save you money. Gold standard toys can cost about 20 percent more than other toys.

Of course, one great gift is your own reusable bin or bag. People are now turning their shopping carts into bags for life to offer to groups of people at fundraisers and charities, including Planned Parenthood and The Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The big downside is that often the bins end up being used as garbage cans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and waste collection organizations all recommend keeping your bins only for unopened, already worn boxes and clear plastic grocery bags. And if you’re interested in buying less material for the holidays, the National Campaign for Sustainable Shopping suggests shopping local. Check out the campaign’s website at NCSS.org for more details about choosing locally made gifts and fair trade products.

If you’re even more eco-friendly, take that figure you came up with and trade it in for a reusable bottle or bag. Some reusable bags are made from recycled plastic; if you love your reusable bag but don’t use it at least once a week, you’re better off leaving it in the closet. Other trade-ins might come from clog-prone diapers, old clothing or shoes. You could even get a tip for a new gardening instrument from a friend — and get your own stuff for free!

You can end up doing more good at the same time as saving on holiday shopping.

Want even more tips? Check out the Green Guides’ Green Gift Guide 2018, a guide that’s every bit as easy to use as the reusable bin or bag. You’ll find everything from options for the girl who likes to sew to a reusable bag for men.

By Theresa Varela, The Washington Post

Leave a Comment