‘Tis the season … to celebrate and exchange gifts! In the past, this meant spending lots of time and money on attractive but often frivolous items, elaborately wrapped, using lots of paper, ribbons and big bows.
However, in the last few years, New Yorkers have become much more aware of the need to make our city greener and less wasteful. Therefore, this holiday season, let us pledge to celebrate by giving even more responsibly. Let us rethink not only how we use gift-wrap, but also the very gifts we give. We can all make our holidays the brightest ever by giving thoughtful gifts that warm the heart and do not come at the expense of the environment.
Here are a few suggestions to help you make your holidays more festive, greener and a lot less wasteful:

  • Give homemade gifts, such as cookies, handicrafts, framed photos.
  • Give entertainment, such as a museum membership, tickets to the movies, the theatre, concerts or to sporting events.
  • Give the gift of learning, such as language or music lessons, classes in cooking, photography, or other favorite hobbies.
  • Give your time or talent, such as baby-sitting, pet sitting, computer help or home repairs.
  • Give fitness, such as gym memberships, personal training sessions, or classes in dance, yoga or Pilates.
  • Give pampering, such as a massage, facial or manicure and pedicure.
  • Give Internet service connection to a loved one.
  • Give nature, such as flower seeds to plant next spring.
  • Give that which you no longer need, such as electronics, furniture, clothes in good condition, etc. to charitable organizations that will distribute them among those in need. And the top way to give more and waste less is:
  • Wrap your gifts in recycled paper. Better yet, reuse gift-wrap or create your own by using old calendars, comics, etc.
    You may also choose to use an artificial tree instead of a real one. Send e-mail greetings rather than paper holiday cards. In addition, if you buy greeting cards, make sure they are made from recycled paper.
    For more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, visit the DSNY website at www.nyc.gov/sanitation
    And above all else, enjoy the gift of giving as you protect the environment.
    Happy Holidays!
    John J. Doherty is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation.

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