December means family get togethers, office parties, cheering on our favorite teams, baking holiday treats, and in general, fun for all. We can enjoy all that comes during the month of December with conservation in mind. Here are a few tips:
The 3Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle! When shopping for gifts and groceries, take along a reusable bag. They are sturdier and can be washed and reused over and over again. If you forget your bag and need to use paper or plastic, recycle the bag on your next shopping trip. Most stores offer a recycling bin for plastic bags just inside their front door. Paper bags can be included in your home recycling program. Gift wrap is recyclable too. If you live out in the country and do not have recycling pick up, there are many local places to drop off your recyclables. Check www.dkmm.org to find all of the recycling drop off locations that are convenient to you. One of my coworkers shared this fantastic idea — sew your own cloth bags in holiday-themed fabric, put your gifts in them, and tie them with a reusable ribbon for wonderful earth-friendly present for everyone on your list.
Recycle your tree! If you have a natural Christmas tree, you can continue with the recycling theme by taking your tree to a nearby drop-off for recycling. Price Organics in Delaware County is one such location. Additional locations within our solid waste district are listed at www.dkmm.org. We are bird watchers at our house so we take our tree and put it near the feeders to give the birds a safe place to rest that is out of sight of predators. If you have kids, an easy way to save your sanity during the winter school break is to roll pine cones or toilet paper rolls in peanut butter and then in bird seed. Hang these on the tree and see how many different species of birds come to visit.
Use salt wisely! We live in Ohio and have plenty of experience with the infamous “wintry mix” of rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Try to get after your sidewalk and driveway in a timely manner to avoid ice build up. Remove snow before family members and pets can compact it and make for treacherous walking. In those cases where salt is necessary to keep everyone safe, use it under the correct conditions. Salt is only effective when pavement temperatures are 20 degrees or higher. And more salt does not mean it will work better. Once conditions improve, if you have salt build up on the hard surfaces around your house, sweep it up and dispose of it in the trash, otherwise that wintry mix will melt and carry the salt to our streams, rivers, and lakes degrading water quality and harming aquatic life. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, “As little as a single teaspoon of salt pollutes five gallons of water, the equivalent of a 50-pound bag of salt polluting 10,000 gallons of water.”
Shop local! If you are like some of my procrastinating coworkers, then you probably still have holiday shopping on your “to do” list. If so, consider the many benefits of shopping locally. You save time and gas, boost your spirits by avoiding traffic snarls, reduce pollution, and give valuable support to your local community. Connect with Big Walnut Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Delaware, Delaware County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Powell Chamber of Commerce, and others via facebook or through an internet search. You can request a free Delaware County Visitors Guide by calling 1-800-DEL-OHIO or you may download it right to your home computer at https://www.visitdelohio.com/things-to-do/shop.
We hope that these environmentally friendly tips allow you to revel in the holidays, relax with family and friends, and celebrate a football victory on Dec. 29. To find more conservation ideas and programs, visit the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District website at www.delawareswcd.org. Happy holidays to you and yours!
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.