- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - Bob Lilienfeld thinks society and the planet could benefit by emulating the Whos when it comes to holiday celebrations.

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!” Dr. Seuss wrote of the Whoville observance in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Lilienfeld, editor of The Use Less Stuff Report, said Americans throw away 25 percent more trash - 1 million extra tons per week - between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year.

He is aiming to change that by encouraging people to cut the waste in their celebrations.

“Holidays are about experiences,” Lilienfeld told The Times in Munster (https://bit.ly/1GsCf89 ). “When you ask someone what they remember about the holidays it isn’t the Barbie doll or the bike they got, it’s that everyone got together.”

Gifts that make memories, he said, are better for the environment and for families.

“I grew up in New York and I remember my parents taking me to Broadway shows and getting dressed up,” Lilienfeld said. “I remember maybe one or two gifts I’ve received over 60 years of gift-giving, but I remember vividly my Dad taking me to a baseball game.”

Unstuff Gifts aims to help consumers find those kinds of gifts. Billed as an online store for “any gift you experience, download or ingest,” the online clearinghouse allows gift-givers to purchase digital subscriptions, memberships to museums and zoos, lessons, concert tickets, tours and even tattoos.

Buying “stuff” online can help the environment to some degree, Lilienfeld said.

“From the perspective of energy efficiency, if you have a neighborhood of 50 homes and instead of 50 cars driving out to the mall you have one UPS truck delivering packages, that’s good,” he said. “The problem is now you have all these containers to deal with at home.”

Donna Stuckert, public education coordinator for the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, said all of the drop-off recycling facilities in Porter County “are always extremely full throughout the year.”

“It’s great because we know people have that awareness,” Stuckert said.

At the same time, however, Stuckert said residents need to remember “reduce” is the first priority when it comes to the three Rs of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

“It’s always best not to have items to recycle at all,” she said.

One way people can do that during the holiday season is to use reusable bags while shopping for gifts, she said.

“People think about doing that for groceries, but not as much when they’re department store shopping,” Stuckert said.

She said people often recommend wrapping gifts in newspaper comics or recyclable brown paper bags, but she thinks it is best to take it a step further by wrapping gifts in other gifts such as scarves, gloves or reusable bags.

Stuckert said the waste district manages the Valparaiso compost facility at 2510 W. Lincolnway, which all Porter County residents can use for dropping off organic waste. The facility is closed for the holidays but reopens on Jan. 10.

“I’d encourage all Porter County residents to drop off their wreaths, trees, leftover pumpkins, pine cones, any holiday organic waste,” Stuckert said. “Then, during the growing season, they’ll make great compost.”


Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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