I reflect back to family Christmases in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and how my grandmother, who was born at the turn of the 20th century, would encourage us to be careful with unwrapping our gifts, so she could use everything again, (the boxes, the ribbon, the bows, the paper, etc.)

My grandmother’s motivation was built from economic necessity, (she grew up during two world wars and the Great Depression), and now our opportunity and responsibility to return to the days of reducing, reusing and recycling is to save the planet we live on.

During the holiday season, 25 million tons of additional waste, (the equivalent of 1 million loaded garbage trucks) will be created. Let’s each take a deep breath and approach this holiday season with the mindset of less is more, and what can we each do to make a difference in the amount of waste we each are creating.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas we can each implement this holiday season to help us get back to the tradition of reducing, reusing and recycling that are county was built on.

• Recycle. If you aren’t in the habit— start today and encourage others to do the same. Recycling not only saves natural resources, but also saves energy.

• Remember the other important “Rs” — reduce and reuse. Help to lessen the amount of waste by buying items that use little or no packaging or “buying in bulk,” which reduces unnecessary packaging; and find ways to use items over and over again.

• Buy gifts that are made locally and are sold locally.

• When ordering online, request environmentally friendly packaging.

• Giving fewer “things” and more time and tradition.

• Use locally raised meats/produce/cheese in your holiday meals.

• Serve locally made beers/spirits at your holiday celebration.

• If we each sent one Christmas card less this year, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

• Call the 800 number on the pile of mail-order catalogs you are receiving and ask that you be removed from their mailing list. Magazines and catalogs can also be recycled with your mixed paper.

• When planning holiday festivities, make it easy for your guests to recycle at gatherings. Use plates, glasses and cutlery that can be washed and reused and have containers available for cans, bottles, cardboard, plastic and paper.

• Turn off holiday lights when you go to bed. String popcorn and cranberries instead of lights. Close your chimney flue when your fire is extinguished.

• Buy recycled-content products. Remember to “look for it, ask for it.” Resolve to “buy green” by purchasing at least one recycled-content product on a regular basis, (toilet paper and paper towels are great places to start).

• For gift wrapping use old posters, comics, magazines, newspaper, colorful bags and even old maps. Save the paper, ribbons and bows to reuse. If we each wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

• Decorate gift boxes, gift tins then reuse those boxes/tins year after year (as my neighbors do).

• Regift and give something that means a lot to you, to one of your loved ones.

• Give eat-up, drink-up, use-up gifts like home-baked cookies/pies, bread or jams, home brews or fresh coffee, and candles, soap, or seeds for next year’s garden. Give gifts that don’t create any waste at all: concert or movie tickets, dinner at a restaurant, an annual pass to state parks or an IOU to help split wood or repair a leaky faucet.

This holiday seasons let’s ALL make the commitment to recycle or reuse everything we can. Remember, at the recycling center we can accept paperboard and cardboard, (without the plastic packing materials), paper, newspaper, magazines, uncoated wrapping paper, aluminum cans, tin/steel cans, glass and No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, (where the mouth is narrower than the body of the container).

The friends of the Wallowa County Recycling Center can also use your help. Volunteer by emailing us at wallowacountyrecycling@gmail.com or by signing up on our volunteer link at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4cada82ca1f8c16-recycle. Help by depositing only the materials we can accept (refer to the signs) and coaching others to do the same.

We also want to thank and encourage everyone to continue to make contributions in the donation box and to challenge all your friends to reduce, reuse and recycle this holiday season and beyond.

———

Peter Ferré is a member of the Wallowa County Recycling Task Force.

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