By KRISTEN NOWAK WINN
Christmas may still be a month away, but there are only 20 shipping days left.
As you start to think about how youâ€™ll package up gifts to loved ones far away, consider the following Earth-friendly tips.
o Reuse boxes for packaging. Just be sure the boxes are still sturdy, and rip off any old shipping labels. If they donâ€™t come off clean, cover up the spot with fun holiday stickers or stamps â€” your recipient will never know the difference.
o If you have to buy new packaging materials, look for those made from recycled materials. The United States Postal Service, for example, has more than 200 Cradle-to-Cradle certified mailing products, which means that the materials have been assessed for human and environmental health.
The criteria measured include toxicity, renewable energy, water stewardship, recyclability and other manufacturing attributes.
o Do all of your online shopping at once to consolidate packaging. This way, you might also be eligible for free shipping if your purchase total meets the specified amount.
o Whenever possible, consider the origin of your giftâ€™s shipping location. For example, if youâ€™re buying something on eBay and there is more than one choice of like items with similar prices, pick the one that will travel the least.
o Reuse packing peanuts. If you receive a package filled with them, hang on to them for the next time you need to ship something. Or, drop them off at a store that will use them again. The Plastic Loose Fill Councilâ€™s Web site, www.loosefillpackaging.com, lets users search for drop-off sites that will take them off your hands. A couple stores listed include Boxes Plus in Fairlawn and Ocepek Pottery in Akron.
The UPS stores in Medina also accept packing peanuts.
Or, you can call the Peanut Hotline, 800-828-2214, to find your nearest location. The Peanut Hotline also helps businesses become a drop-off site so that they can cut down on their own packaging costs as well as be an environmental role model in their community.
o Make your own wrapping paper by decorating newsprint or butcher paper. Whenever possible, reuse bows and ribbons.
Of course, a simple card with a handwritten note goes a long way, too.
Winn may be reached at 330-721-4053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.