Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2014 Contents B2
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 30, 2014
As 2014 draws to an end, many
of us---young and elderly alike---
become captivated by the end of
year festivities. We anxiously search
for that perfect present for our fam-
ily and friends, glamorous decora-
tions for that large, plastic Christ-
mas tree, the perfect
store-purchased card that captures
all the right words, and not to men-
tion those beverages whose con-
tainers are often improperly dis-
carded after consumption!
These festivities often take centre
stage during this time of the year,
but the exuberance and joy that we
experience may not be shared with
our precious mother earth. Have we
ever wondered how this season
impacts on our environment?
During the end of year festivities,
whilst ensuring we have the best
Christmas and New Year experience,
we may not be concerned with the
volume of resources consumed and
waste generated each year. According
to the Environmental Protection
Agency, in the period between
Thanksgiving and New Year's, Amer-
ican households generate 25 per cent
more waste. That's about one million
extra tons of trash each year. It
includes everything from food to
wrapping paper, holiday decorations,
packaging, and old cellphones and
laptops which are unceremoniously
dumped as soon as the latest models
emerge from under the Christmas
For our local overburdened land-
fills, our end of year festivities do
not need to negatively impact our
environment. There are ways in
which we can transform the season
into an environmentally-responsible
Before heading off to the malls or
shopping centres, start your journey
by taking along recyclable bags to
gather your purchases.
Plastic bags are one of the biggest
waste culprits of the season. You
may have already created a shopping
list to guide your purchases, but
think alternative "green" gift options
which can be equally appreciated.
Plants are always a great option,
and with the emergence of several
local markets across the country
showcasing products from cosmetics,
jewelry, cuisine and crafts, our variety
has now expanded.
Supporting local vendors also
reduces our "food and produce
miles," which according to the Cen-
tre for Environmental Education
refers to the emissions of greenhouse
gases from transportation vehicles,
most notably carbon dioxide.
After we have made our purchases,
it is on to the business of gift wrap-
ping. Many of us may prefer new
gift bags and wrapping paper, but
reusing old items can be just as
Last Christmas at the EMA, sev-
eral employees reused their 2013 cor-
porate calendars to transform the
pages into attractive gift bags, and
used card board from old boxes as
The EMA has also conducted
demonstrations on Furoshiki, the
Japanese art of wrapping items in
fabric as an alternative to using bags.
This concept is used for everyday
shopping and gift giving, and any
type of fabric can be used on almost
any shape or size of item!
Cards can also be costly especially
if your gift list is extremely long!
We can explore our creativity by
using recyclable materials around
the home to produce a unique piece.
Remember those days in primary
school when we made cards for our
parents using food grains, coloured
paper, pictures from magazines, etc?
Card making can be a fun, family
activity that your loved ones would
Other tips for card giving include:
reusing old cards to makes tags for
this year's presents, and substituting
postcards for cards. If you are short
on time and creative ideas, purchase
cards that are made from recyclable
Use natural decorative elements
to create an earthy look
Whether it's the wreath at your
front door or corporate event, natural
decorative elements always create a
warm ambiance. Instead of purchas-
ing plastic green trees which are dis-
carded after a few years, consider
decorating plants or creatively
assemble twigs or branches, which
is actually an emerging trend in
Pine cones assembled on a platter
with potpourri or dried natural ele-
ments such as petals, spices such as
cloves and cardamom are aromatic
and aesthetically pleasing to the
When choosing your lights, be
sure to choose the LED option which
is exceptionally energy efficient.
According to the US EPA, LED lights
can use up to 90 per cent less energy
than traditional incandescent bulbs
and just one seven-watt incandes-
cent bulb could power 140 LEDs!
Also, do consider lighting your
trees only when guests are around
to save on electricity consumption.
Next week, we will delve into
other eco friendly gift options,
Christmas lighting, and disposal
of beverage containers.
Visit www.ema.co.tt for more info.
If you have comments or would like
to contribute to this column please
respond to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pinecones are an easy, inexpensive decoration for the holidays. Designing
them can be as simple as placing them in a bowl with berries or spices.
Dreaming of a
Gift bags made from recycled calenders.
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