12 Tips to Reduce Waste at the Holidays

Gift wrapping items: wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes, and bow

Americans produce a staggering amount of waste. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013, we collectively produced 254 million tons of trash, an average of about 4.4 pounds per person per day.  (That’s much higher than the global average, though other wealthy, developed countries aren’t far behind.) The upside is that we recycled and composted about 34% of that waste, but that still left a lot of trash headed to landfills or scattered as litter. There are about 2,000 active landfills in the US, and simple math leads to the conclusion that we will at some point run out of space for all of our trash. In addition, properly managing municipal waste is expensive, and both landfills and incineration can pose serious environmental and health concerns. Moreover, think about all the resources we are wasting by throwing so many things away rather than using them to their fullest potential.

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Loss, Love, and Community at the Holidays

Abstract painting loosely resembling a fall landscape
Peace, 2014. Private Collection; prints available.

With the holiday season well underway, I’ve been thinking a lot about family and community.  I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with family, as I’ve always been lucky enough to do.  While I was so grateful to be surrounded by my mom, aunt, cousins, and husband, the absence of my father and uncle were palpable — it was our first Thanksgiving without them.  Spending these last few days at my parents’ house, it seems as though everywhere I look, I’m reminded of my dad.  It’s as if I can still see him sitting in his favorite chair and hear exactly what he would say in response to just about every situation.

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