Last month we were beyond moved, and to be quite honest, rattled by the brilliant, thoughtful, and urgent words of Greta Thunberg. We’ve always taken pride in the fact that we recycle, compost, bring re-usable bags when we shop and use natural products, but on the larger scale, this is a pretty minimal effort to decrease our carbon footprint. As we enter the holiday season, we are aware of the fact that our waste production is about to increase dramatically.

Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. 

Let that sink in. Here are a few things we can do to be more mindful as we dive into Fall.

October

Don’t throw your pumpkins in the trash — instead, compost or offer it up to friends with backyard chickens. Even if you don’t have a compost bin, simply smashing your old jack-o’-lantern and burying it in your garden will help amend the soil with nutrients. The same is true for your leaves and yard debris. Denver offers several leaf drop locations each year and you can grab your compostable bags at Ace Hardware.

Repurpose your spiderweb decor. Front yards in our neighborhood are strewn with fake cobwebs. Bags of the polyester fibers are cheap to buy and easy to drape over shrubs and porch rails. They can be reused for future Halloweens, or use them to stuff a craft project for the kiddos.

Recycle and reuse your Halloween costumes. Store-bought costumes can be swapped with other families. Or consider making your costumes from recycled materials or stuff you already have around the house.

November

Serve smaller portions, prepare leftovers and consider plant based options. After the big meal-COMPOST! Our Denver green bins take meat and bones as well. If you haven’t signed up for the compost program yet, now is the time to do so. 

December

Wrapping paper is often used once and thrown away. Try using the colorful pages torn from this very magazine to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes. Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled-paper, and avoid glitter. Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows. 

We hope these tips inspire you, our friends and neighbors, to consider decreasing our impact on the planet. Even the smallest change can make a huge difference.

Your neighbors, Sam and Shaleen DeStefano

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