By: Dianna Parker
The holidays are upon us, and ’tis the season for many parties and gatherings. The Office of Response and Restoration has put together a few tips for keeping your impact on the ocean low throughout all your festivities, including a few for reducing waste that could become marine debris:
“Set out reusable dishes for guests or use recyclable items and have a clearly labeled recycling bin at the ready. Compost napkins, half-eaten gingerbread people, and that fruitcake leftover from last year. Get more tips from the Marine Debris Blog. As they point out, “According to the EPA, the volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—about 1 million extra tons.”
Do your holiday shopping with reusable bags. Plastic shopping bags are among the top 10 items collected each year at the International Coastal Cleanup.
Keep your gifts under reusable wraps. Skip the plastic ribbons and bows and wrap your gifts in stylish fabric gift bags (which the recipient can then re-gift). At the very least, save what wrappings you can and use them again next time.
Avoid giving gifts that contain tiny plastic microbeads. It may be tempting to give your sister-in-law a bottle of Cinnamon Stick Glitterburst Exfoliating Body Scrub, but check the label first. Personal care items, such as cleansers and body wash, often contain “microscrubbers” made of plastic that go down the drain, most times making it past waste treatment and into rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Look for “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredient list.
If you have a blast, clean it up. If you use fireworks to ring in the New Year, please do so responsibly. Fireworks can shatter into little plastic bits, which can be swept into storm drains and end up in lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Volunteer for a beach cleanup on January 1, track what you pick up, and make sure marine debris doesn’t pollute 2015.”
Or, if you’re feeling creative and want to get a jump start on that New Year’s resolution to clean out your closet, here’s one of our favorites: start turning your old tank tops and t-shirts into reusable bags. Give them as gifts or do your last-minute shopping with them! You’re reducing and reusing at the same time, and that’s something to celebrate.
Happy holidays from the Marine Debris Program team!