Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, we estimate that
Americans generate 25 million tons of trash. That amounts to
about 1 million extra tons per week during this period versus
the rest of the year.
To remind people of the need to reduce waste during the
38 days between Turkey Day and New Year's Day, we're
declaring November 16 to be ULS Day. (That gives you exactly
one week before Thanksgiving to start cleaning up your act!)
We're very proud that many well-known and highly-respected
government, environmental and academic groups are joining us
in our efforts. Participants include The Environmental Protection
Agency Office of Solid Waste, The National Audubon Society,
Keep America Beautiful (KAB), The California Integrated Waste
Management Board, the National Pollution Prevention Center for
Higher Education at the University of Michigan, The University of
Arizona/The Garbage Project, Chicago Clean Streak (KAB affiliate)
and Foodchain. (The last is a national network of prepared and
perishable food rescue programs.)
All of these groups share our belief that a truly sustainable
society is a more efficient society. Since using less stuff
significantly increases efficiency, it helps maintain a healthy
and sustainable environment.
We can't stress enough how important it is for all of us to get
involved in the fight for sustainability. Like the old saying goes,
there's strength in numbers. Since there are over 250 million
people in the United States, each of us doing a little bit adds up
to a whole lot. If every family reduced its weekly waste during
the holidays by only one pound, the total trash eliminated would
be a rather staggering 500 million pounds.
We've packed the rest of the newsletter with ways to make
holiday time a lot less wasteful and a little less expensive.
Many of the tips can be used year-round as well. Happy savings
and happy holidays from The ULS Report!
Practice Portion Control and Smart Shopping
Did you know that much of the 28 billion pounds of edible food
thrown away each year is wasted during the holiday season?
For example, if every American throws away just one bite of
turkey with gravy, 8 million pounds of food is wasted. One
uneaten tablespoon of mashed potatoes adds 16 million pounds
of waste, while one discarded spoonful of cranberrry sauce
amounts to over 14 million pounds.
Keep your first portions small. If you're
still hungry, ask for seconds. (You'll waste
less and make the cook very happy!)
Buy smart. Here are some realistic guidelines for
what the average adult might consume:
Portion Control, Holiday Style
Amount Per Person
1/2 lb. raw
Ham, Roast Beef
Squash, Sweet Potatoes
1/8 of pie
Purchase products in bulk, and buy those
that use less packaging. Replacing a
cardboard box for 12 packs of soda
with plastic rings will cut waste by 92%.
Bread and cereal bags can be reused to store
food and other items.
Compost your leftover fruits, vegetables
Need food covers? Use the shower caps you
took from your last hotel visit!
Send guests home with leftovers. Use paper
and plastic bags and plastic containers.
Mesh bags from onions and potatoes make great
scouring pads when first tied in a knot.
Bring your own shopping bags. Paper, plastic and
cloth are all fine. (The latter two are easy to fold
and store in pockets and purses.) In New York
City alone, one less grocery bag per person per
year could save 5 million pounds of waste and
$250,000 in disposal costs.
It's a Wrap
Wrap gifts in old maps, newspapers, Sunday
comics or kids' artwork.
Break down gift boxes and store for next year.
Use those tins you've been saving for gift boxes.
Leftover wrapping paper and wallpaper scraps
can be used to decorate gift boxes, and as art
supplies for your children.
Deck the Halls
Guess how many Christmas trees are bought each
year in the U.S. -- 50 million!
Get a tree that can be planted or mulched.
Or, buy an artificial one.
Buy outdoor light strands that are wired in
parallel. If one bulb goes, the others still work,
so you won't be throwing away 'bad' strands.
Smaller bulbs are lower wattage, which means
they consume less electricity and give off less
heat -- a definite safety plus around the tree.
Put all your lights on timers for energy savings
and peace of mind when you're away.
Make your own wreaths with dried flowers,
pine cones and other similar items which
you've saved or collected.
Use clove-studded oranges for room fresheners
or make homemade potpourri using dried
flowers. (A drop of vegetable or body oil will
enhance the scent and keep it moist.)
Reach Out and Touch Someone
Be selective when you send Christmas cards.
Also, you probably have a few different cards
left over from years gone by. Send these to
the new people on your list.
Cut off the front of cards you receive and reuse
them as postcards or ornaments. Recycle the
rest of the cards and the envelopes. Contact
your Lion's Club about their cancelled
stamp donation program.
Curb Catalog Clutter
Reduce unwanted mailings and duplicate
catalogs by calling the toll free (800) number
listed on the order form. To have your
name removed from most, if not all
lists, contact: Mail Preference Service,
P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735.
White Elephant Party
Ask friends to bring holiday gifts they don't
want. Put them on a table and let others
choose an item that they like. You'll be
amazed at what happens!
Buy rechargeable batteries for toys and
other items that are used frequently.
Make gifts out of items that you already have
around the house:
Old clothes and jewelry for a dress-up box.
Tools and gadgets for a young inventor.
Clean and refill deodorant roll-on bottles
with poster paint for budding Picassos.
Make pot holders and oven mitts from old
ironing board covers.
Empty lipstick cases make pretty, easy-fo-find
pill and breath freshener holders. Remove
the spiral platform and clean well.
Old clothes, drapes, robes and tablecloths can
be used to make doll clothes, broaches, etc.
Did you know that corrugated cartons amount to
23 million tons of waste per year in the U.S.? Starch and
foam 'peanuts' make up about 0.1% of all waste.
Drop off extra packaging materials at local private
mailing centers such as Mail Boxes Etc. Call the
Plastic Loosefill Products Council (1-800-828-2214)
for the names of local businesses that reuse them.
Recycle that corrugated! It's a valuable
money-maker for most towns.
Reuse packaging cartons and shippings materials.
Old newspaper makes for excellent packing, too.
Paper grocery bags can be used to wrap small
to medium sized packages for mailing.
When staying in hotels for extended visits, set
up a schedule with the hotel to wash sheets
and towels. They don't really need to be
changed every day. The same goes for all
of those cute little toiletries.
If you do open the little shampoo, conditioner
and mouthwash bottles, keep them in your
travel kit for those times when you
forget your own stuff.
'Twas the Night before Christmas...
Make sure that Santa and his reindeer eat the
cookies and carrots that your children leave
out for them. (Dad might try having a light
Christmas Eve dinner so that he has room
for a late night snack.)
Older and Wiser
Make it your Number One New Year's Resolution
to USE LESS STUFF throughout the year!
The best things in life are free. Give your family
the gifts of time and love.
Thank You, Mr. President -- October has been declared
Energy Awareness Month by President Clinton. His
proclamation highlighted the need to "build a strong
foundation of sustainable energy policies that will
benefit generations to come."
Building Better Bridges -- Scientists and engineers are
working to develop a new generation of construction
materials for bridges so that structures will last longer,
resist corrosion and need fewer repairs. The key to such
durability appears to lie with the development of composite
fibers made from glass, carbon and plastic.
An Ounce of Prevention -- Oregon, known for its leading role
in recycling, is taking the lead in using less stuff as well.
The Oregon Department of Energy is co-sponsoring a model
city project to develop a program which reduces solid waste
generation, uses energy efficiently, conserves water and
They Got the Lead Out -- Leaded gas is almost dead. The last
areas to market these fuels should have phased them out by
the time you read this. Parts of the Pacific Northwest have
such mild weather that old cars and trucks last virtually
forever. Since many run on leaded gas, some stations have
continued to sell it. But that's finally changed. The switch
won't hurt the engines, but will hurt the wallet: up to
10¢ per gallon more for unleaded.
We would like to acknowledge the following groups for providing
ULS Day holiday tip information:
The EPA Office of Solid Waste
The New York City Department of Sanitation
The Tightwad Gazette
Choose to Reuse (Ceres Press)
The ULS Report is a bi-monthly publication of Partners for Environmental
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Snail mail address: P.O. Box 130116 Ann Arbor MI 48113
Editor: Robert Lilienfeld
Technical Advisor: Dr. William Rathje
Editorial Advisor: Tony Kingsbury Copyright 1995, The ULS Report and Partners for Environmental Progress.
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