Tips: February Fun Without The Waste

This Valentine's Day, show your love for the earth by sending recycled-content greeting cards. This is among the tips offered by EPA for February activities.

  • Consider making new cards from scrap paper or by attaching new backs to the fronts of old cards -- this can be a craft project for family and friends that helps everyone reduce paper waste while saving money. Also consider sending electronic valentines.
  • Bake cookies or other goodies for your valentine and package them in reusable and/or recyclable containers as gifts. Home-made goodies show how much you care and help you avoid packaging waste. Consider also buying long-lasting silk flowers, potted plants, or live bushes, shrubs or trees that can be planted in the spring.
  • Think "green" while shopping the President's Day sales. Bring your own reusable cloth bag for carrying your purchases, and try to buy items with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content. For example, buy fleece jackets made from recycled soda bottles, sneakers made with recycled rubber soles or clothes made from recycled cotton scraps.
  • Don't become dehydrated playing winter sports. Prevent waste by using a reusable sports bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles. If you are providing drinks for your team, supply them in reusable containers such as thermoses or hard plastic cups.
  • Before storing your used sports equipment for the winter, consider donating or selling any equipment you no longer want to a charity or used sporting goods store. Also consider donating old soccer balls, footballs, or tennis balls to your local animal shelter to use as chew toys.
  • If you are participating in a winter sport, purchase used sports equipment whenever possible, and look for sporting goods that are made from recycled material. Examples include hiking shoes with recycled rubber soles, basketballs made with recycled rubber, and ski jackets and sleeping bags made from recycled soda bottles.
  • For sports you don't regularly participate in, try renting or borrowing equipment rather than buying it. This will save you money and prevent waste.
  • For cold weather sporting events, wear multiple layers of clothing or thermal underwear instead of relying on battery-operated or kerosene heaters.
  • When possible, use skis, snow shoes, or sleds to go through snow instead of gas-powered snowmobiles.
  • If you are hosting a basketball party, buy drinks and snacks in bulk to prevent packaging waste, and encourage guests to recycle their empty aluminum cans and glass or plastic bottles. Also reuse decorations, or rent some from a party store.

Additional information on what you can do to help reduce and better manage waste can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/citizens.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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