Christmas has traditionally been a season for giving. However, few gift recipients would welcome a gift of trash, food scraps or old tires. Careful consideration during the purchase of gifts will reduce the amount of useless packaging material, unusable product or senseless do-dads that end up in the wastebasket before Christmas day is over.

Missouri citizens are not alone in producing large amounts of waste materials during the year, but with careful planning and a clear concern for the environment and the health and safety of family and neighbors, less waste production is a worth while goal for the coming new year.

Following are some suggestions as to how this important waste reduction effort can begin.

Buy gifts that are made of recycled materials. i.e.: welcome mats, irrigation hose or surface cushion tiles made of recycled tires; clothing or items made of recycled plastic bottles; crafts or products made of scrapwood or reclaimed lumber.

  • Buy rechargeable batteries to go with new electronic toys. Encourage proper disposal of used small batteries. i.e.: small battery disposal programs offered by participating Wal-Marts, ACE Hardware, Radio Shack, Target, Black and Decker, Circuit City, Ameritech, etc.
  • Buy high quality, durable goods to reduce waste. A higher priced item may last longer and reduce the amount of junk merchandise ending up in landfills. i.e.: leather shoes rather than vinyl or cloth; high efficiency fluorescent light bulbs; or well made clothing items. proper disposal of Christmas trees that can be found on the publications web site.
  • To compensate for the harvest of your Christmas tree, arrange to plant a new tree in your yard or neighborhood next spring. Also, consider a high quality artificial tree as the start of a new and hopefully, long-running family tradition.
  • Consider a New Year’s resolution to try composting your yard trimmings or using worms to compost food wastes. Pledge to pay closer attention to collecting items with recyclable potential. Volunteer to encourage Reduction, Reuse and Recycling in your family and community.
  • Give gifts that promote life style changes friendly to the environment. For example: cloth napkins and matching tablecloth, cloth or string shopping bags, a compost bin, gift certificates to resale shops, library card, lunch box, reusable or biodegradable picnic plates, cups and utensils, recycling bins or stationary made from recycled paper.
  • Take the foam peanut and bubble wrap from your purchases and take them to a mailing or shipping store where they can be reused. Save boxes and bows for reuse.
  • To preserve the spirit of giving, don’t try to give too much. Less stuff means less waste and a healthier environment for everyone.

For more information about waste reduction, reuse or recycling, contact the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management Program at 573-751-5401.