Baltimore County Now
Kitty McIlroy, Student Intern, Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management
Senior, Goucher College Environmental Studies Major
When it comes time for holiday shopping, often it becomes a rush to find last minute gifts for family members and friends. If you plan ahead a little, you can avoid the quick purchase of a generic holiday card, store-bought wrapping paper or a gift bag. If you’re like me, and feel guilty about this extra waste, then keeping a few holiday wrapping tips in mind will transform your holiday habits and keep your environmental conscience at ease. These “green” ideas provide a low-to-zero waste way to wrap and give presents to your loved ones this holiday season. Enjoy!
Waste Reduction and Recycling Tips for Holiday Wrapping:
Reuse items such as packaging peanuts or take them to local mailing/shipping stores. Try to reuse all previous holiday wrapping items, even glass jars and tins. Get creative and use old maps, sheet music, comics, newspaper, calendars, magazines, shopping or plain paper bags and extra wallpaper to decorate your packages. Make your own wrapping paper by painting or drawing some original art with personal messages to make a one-of-a-kind gift. Even something like a nice cloth or bandana can be used as wrapping, and it can also be part of the present.
Back To Nature:
You can also purchase cards and wrapping materials made from 100% recycled paper. Also, don’t forget material such as banana fiber “paper” and designs printed with soy-based inks. These materials eventually can be composted. Just by stepping outside you can find natural alternatives to store-bought bows by using sprigs of berries, holly, pine cones or shells. Additional decorations can come from organic materials such as leaves, ivy, lavender, rosemary or cinnamon sticks. You can even purchase wrapping paper made with wildflower seeds. These seeds can be planted after being unwrapped. Finally, when wrapping a present, natural twine or yarn can serve as an alternative to ribbons and petroleum based tape, and twine and yarn are reusable.
Crafty Card Ideas:
Reuse old cards to make gift tags or holiday postcards or take the old cards to organizations that will reuse them. Try making your own gift cards out of recycled paper or using zero-waste alternatives like “e-cards.”
I hope this spurs your creativity and prompts you to craft some wonderful, eco-friendly wrapping designs. Send a picture of your handiwork to firstname.lastname@example.org and it might get posted online! Good Luck and Happy Holidays.
Contributed by Mother Nature
Psst, come closer. I want to share a well-kept secret with you - “Leafcycling.” Haven’t heard of “Leafcycling?” Well, you’re not alone. So let me tell you a little story. To start, we must go back to spring when the deciduous trees are emerging from their long winter “sleep” and their leaves begin to grow.
Leaves take in sunlight and carbon dioxide, and through an amazing process turn it into the food that a tree needs to thrive. Leaves also produce life-giving oxygen for the planet and help to moderate its temperature. Leaves perform this task day in and day out from spring to fall.
When summer ends and temperatures drop, these hard-working little gems provide a magnificent show of colors. But even as these little wonders fall from their branches, they still have much to offer when given the chance. That is where “Leafcycling” comes into play.
Instead of wasting your leaves by raking, bagging and putting them out for the County to collect, put these little gems to use enriching your yard. The easiest way to “Leafcycle” is to run your lawnmower over the leaves where they have fallen and leave the clippings on the lawn. These clippings will decompose over time and enrich the soil with valuable nutrients.
There are a few simple rules that you should follow when “Leafcycling” to obtain the best results:
- Instead of waiting for all of the leaves to fall and mulching them in one cutting, do multiple cuttings. This is especially true if you have a lot of leaves.
- Chop the leaves as finely as possible. The finer the particles, the quicker they will decompose. A mulching mower will assist in this process, but any mower can be used.
- Make sure the leaf particles don’t cover the tops of the grass blades. You don’t want to smother your lawn.
If the mulched leaves are higher than the tops of the grass blades, you can place the excess around your annual plants, shrubs, hedges and trees. A six-inch layer of mulched leaves will quickly settle into the ideal three-inch layer that will help to keep soil moist and protect the plants’ roots through winter.
Make it easy on yourself and give your lawn, garden and the environment a boost by using these little gems as I intended.
Thanks from Mother Nature and the Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management, Recycling Division.