Last Saturday was my familyís annual holiday shopping day. No, we do not go on Black Friday–weíre not intense enough for that. Plus, with that Wal-Mart store employee getting killed in a stampede this year, it just seems dangerous! Instead, we take a day to relax and digest the Thanksgiving meal and then head out with a smaller (but still quite large) mass of shoppers on Saturday.
Itís always a fun time for us–especially since Iíve grown up and we donít have to head directly for the mall, which is always littered with impossible hordes of people. Instead, we go for the more intriguing places. Woodstock and Great Barrington are two of our favorites. These towns have wonderful stores to find interesting gifts in–and not the normal gifts that come suffocated in plastic and are handed to you in a plastic bag. No, most of the stores have unique merchandise that is not pre-packaged, and the sellers (who, given, are usually more green than those in the mall) would never dream of using plastic bags.
The reason I bring this up is because this year, my parents and I are on the No Plastic Holiday Challenge. Amy Gates, the developer of this challenge, urges people to avoid plastic as much as possible this holiday season. Though it may well be impossible to fully eliminate plastic from your shopping regime, try your hardest to remove most of it. Amy lists lots of scary facts about plastic production and recycling at the above link–I suggest reading it. It really opens your eyes. The fact that stood out for me stated that of the 200 million tons of plastic produced each year, 96 percent of it isnít recycled. Thatís 192 million tons of plastic that isnít recycled every year! And plastic that isnít recycled can last in the environment anywhere from 400-1000 years. That is BAD.
So this year, really think about your plastic purchasing. To avoid being handed plastic bags at the store, bring your own bags! Keep some in your car so you donít forget to bring them when you leave the house. Try to think of creative gifts that wouldnít be pre-packaged in plastic, or go to lesser-known stores. Shopping in small towns can be great fun! And, if you do have to buy plastic, figure out first which kinds of plastic are most easily recycled and gravitate towards buying those types.
Note to self: Happy sans-plastic shopping!
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.
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