Use Less Useless Stuff

Use Less Useless Stuff
Dorothy Rosby

The holiday season actually began on November 2, Use Less Stuff Day, not to be confused with Useless Stuff Day, which, for many of us, falls on December 25.

The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash every day. Use Less Stuff Day is a time for us to pause and ask ourselves the all-important question: “If I had to haul my own garbage to the landfill, would I have so darn much of it?”

Every year, we toss 25 billion Styrofoam cups, 100 billion plastic bags, 9.4 million tons of electronics and $218 billion worth of food. And every single hour, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles. Honestly, I don’t see how we get anything else done.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we toss 25% more trash than we do the rest of the year. It’s all that wrapping paper, packaging and fruit cake we haul to the curb, wrenching our backs and wrecking the holiday season for sanitation workers everywhere.

As my Christmas gift to you—and sanitation workers—I’m giving you the following list. It’s not as much fun as a pet rock, but there’s less packaging.

Five Ways to Use Less Stuff This Holiday Season

  1. Rather than buying new Christmas ornaments, make them out of items you have on hand—maybe plastic water bottles and Styrofoam cups.
  2. Clean up your Christmas card list. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the United States would fill a football field 10 stories high which would definitely interfere with the game.
  3. Reuse ribbon and wrapping paper. I read that if every American family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, we could tie a bow around the planet, though I’m not sure why we would do that.

    Try wrapping your gifts in brown paper bags or old newspapers, being careful to avoid the obituary page. And remember, some gifts don’t have to be wrapped at all, for example, tickets, gift certificates, and plants. I appreciate all of those. Or you could just give me money.
  4. Don’t buy dumb gifts. More gadgets, doohickeys and thing-a-ma-jigs are purchased just before Christmas than any other time, many of them in those last frantic moments before the reindeer appear. Shoppers who started out with great intentions break down on December 24 and settle for electric carrot peelers. Not only does the packaging end up in the landfill, so does the gift.
  5. Remember that old saying, it’s better to re-gift than to receive—or something like that. Some people may be offended to learn their gift is a re-gift. If they find out, be honest. Tell them you felt it was better to pass the gift on to them than to add it to the 4.5 pounds of trash you throw away every day. That will make them feel better.


Dorothy RosbyDorothy Rosby is making all of her Christmas gifts out of Popsicle sticks this year.

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