Strung out on recycling

By Michael Swan on November 28, 2011


For many Americans, the holiday season could be better-called "The Consumption Season." Corporate America has seasoned our perception of a year's end into an annual rite of buying on credit, looking anxiously for parking spaces and slipping unconsciously into a "Buy! Buy! Buy!" mind frame.

The seasonal celebration has become more about purchasing than about spiritual renewal or reverence for change. And as consumption increases, it's important to be aware of how and under what conditions your gifts were produced. Globally aware folk are realizing that feeding the corporate machine by buying overpriced products from schmancy designers doesn't comply with the forward-thinking mentality portrayed by their "Think Globally, Act Locally" bumper sticker. But the "shop ‘til you drop" attitude is the one many grew up with, and it remains an easy one to slip numbly into as the holiday approaches. This holiday season is an ideal opportunity to subscribe whole-heartedly to a more sustainable style of gift giving.

Also something to keep in mind is how your holiday celebration affects the planet.

The obvious is the living Christmas tree. No need to whack down a young pup evergreen, just to keep it gasping on life support until a couple days after Christmas. Instead, consider a live, potted tree to be planted in the spring. Check with local greenhouses or nurseries for trees that can make the indoor/outdoor transition without becoming a Yule log.

Holiday Lights Recycling

What you may not have considered is recycling your holiday lights.

Federal Way resident Jessica Lam considered it. Three years ago the 10-year-old approached Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with the idea of recycling strings of holiday lights and raise money for the Zoo's conservation fund. Gazing out onto its one trillion lights show that is Zoolights, the recycling arm of PDZA lit up with glee.

Through the holiday season the zoo will take your light strands, sell the copper wiring, recycle the plastic coating and put the money back into the zoo. It's brilliant. PDZA asks you remove all packaging, twist-ties, rubber bands and pinecones decorated as Santa.

The Girl Scouts return to help with the recycling program - collecting strands to earn a coveted badge.

Click here to journey to PDZA's recycling program webpage for donation locations.