Eco-Nomical: Reducing Waste The holiday season is green when it comes to money and holly, but not when it comes to trash. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw out about 2 billion pounds of extra garbage. How do you trim the extra waste?

Eco-Nomical: Reducing Waste

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The holiday season is green when it comes to money and holly - not when it comes to trash. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw out about two billion pounds of extra garbage. To find how we might trim some of that waste, we've invited Jennifer Bayse Sander. She's co-author of "Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season." She joins us from the studios of Capitol Public Radio in Sacramento for our eco-nomical holiday series, our online and on-air guide to saving money and the environment. Thanks very much for being with us, Ms. Sander.

Ms. JENNIFER BAYSE SANDER (Co-author, "Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season "): Happy to be here.

SIMON: And where's all this extra trash come from?

Ms. SANDER: Well, gosh. Just picture in your mind what it looks like in your own living room just minutes after people have opened their presents. There's this enormous mound. There's cardboard, there's wrapping paper, there's ribbon. It just goes on and on and on. And then, of course, you have to deal with it. It's all of the excess packaging that comes wrapped around all of those gifts that we give each other that adds up to so much extra waste every year.

SIMON: And you've got some very specific ideas on how we can reduce that.

Ms. SANDER: Well, first and foremost is to cut down on the number of gifts that we exchange or to try to focus on gifts that don't create so much extra waste. Any time that you can do something that doesn't involve a physical package you're going to help not put things into the waste stream.

SIMON: How do you cut down on wrapping paper? Do you even really need to wrap a present?

Ms. SANDER: I know that a lot of the excitement on Christmas morning - and I'm the mother of two young children myself - a lot of the excitement is ripping that paper off. But what if, for instance, with small kids and their presents, what if you hid your presents around the house and then made a treasure map and had the kids go running around the house looking for each individually hidden present? And then that way the presents wouldn't have to be wrapped.

Adults are mature enough to understand that a gift that just has, you know, a little piece of ribbon on it is just as good as a gift that comes wrapped in really shiny, tinselly paper, which, of course, is the least recyclable type of paper of all.

SIMON: Before I got married, I used to wrap gifts in newspaper. It wasn't for environmental reasons. It was just I didn't like running out to buy wrapping paper. Now my wife said that people would accept that coming from me because ostensibly I'm in the news business, but it would be odd coming from other people.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SANDER: Well, but I don't think that it would be odd. You know, more and more people are accustomed to the idea that it's better for all of us if we reuse things, if we look for ways to cut down on new consumption. So I don't think people are going to look at you funny, Scott, and say, ah, newspaper? This was the best you could do for me?

SIMON: Jennifer Bayse Sander, co-author of the book, "Green Christmas." Thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. SANDER: Thanks. Happy Holidays.

SIMON: And by the way, if you have some tips on how you can be eco-friendly this season or want to share photos of your green decorations, you can go to npr.org/gifts.

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