How can we incorporate Creation Care into our celebrations of Christ’s birth? There is so much packaging involved in our cultural celebration of Christmas - plastic and cardboard, decorative papers and many types of ribbon and decorations for packages. At this point in our preparations, we’re getting ready for our families to unwrap presents. If we set up bags or boxes to separate recyclables from trash when we’re unwrapping presents, we can make the process easier. A container for recyclable plastic, one for recyclable paper and cardboard and one for trash. Some of the better papers and ribbons are really good for reuse. If a present with a good paper is opened carefully, the paper may be folded or rolled on a cardboard tube and used next Christmas. So add provision for reusable wrappings.
Regular and glossy wrapping paper is recyclable unless it has non-paper additives like metallic flakes, colored shapes, glitter and plastics. Foil, metallic and heavily laminated wrapping paper should also be thrown away instead of recycled. Please do not recycle foil, plastic coating, ribbon, bows and glitter. They go into the trash. Prior years’ Christmas cards make great labels for presents. Cut off the front of the card, use tape and put it on a package. If you’re a rabid declutterer, cards may be donated. If you don’t have a local place to give them, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children accepts most greeting cards. The address for their Recycled Cards Program is available online.
May the light of Christmas and the love for God’s creation be with us throughout the year.
Is zero waste a new idea and how does reducing trash relate to our climate crisis? Zero waste means reducing our final trash as much as possible. All the things we consume and then throw out as trash such as disposable straws, to-go coffee cups or, in this Christmas season, plastic packaging materials and sparkling papers are generally made with plastics made from fossil fuels. They are not recyclable. According to the Plastics Ocean Foundation, we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year. Fifty percent (50%) or 150 million tons is for single-use purposes, used for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. Even when burned plastics leave a toxic ash that has to be stored in our environment. Reducing trash is good for our environment and also good for our wallets. It may mean less direct cost to put out our trash and/or less cost for our towns for trash disposal. WIn Win!
Kathryn Kellogg in her book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste recommends a simple process for reducing waste. The process is useful no matter where we are in our environmental journey. She says “Get to know your trash.” How often do you throw away single-use containers, paper towels, straws, cups, plastic food packaging? Say NO to plastic straws or paper straws coated with plastic, plastic cup lids for coffee or soda and plastic water bottles. Get reusable grocery bags and use them for other purchases, something we are very familiar with. When we evaluate what we throw away, we can look for alternatives that help our environment. Then before buying, evaluate whether you need it and will use it or perhaps just want it. Consider how and where its made and the resources required to make it. And the idea of reducing waste is not new. Calvin Coolidge, born in Vermont, Governor of Massachusetts and President of the United States, had a saying that is applicable now: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, do without!”
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We hope to help our community become stewards of creation.