Give Back to the Earth With Green Holiday Mailing

Photo: Green your Holiday Gift Mailing: 3 tips to stay green while sending gifts this season

The holidays may be a time for celebration, but not when it comes to American conservation. According the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce 25 percent more waste from Thanksgiving to New Year's than at any other time of the year, adding up to a whopping 25 million extra tons of garbage going to the landfill.

There are many ways to cut down on the trash, starting with more eco-friendly ways to pack and send packages. Here are three tips to keep in mind to green your gift giving this holiday season.

Tip One: Go Light on the Peanuts

VIDEO: Sam Champion offers tips on using recycled goods to pack breakables.
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Kids may love those little Styrofoam peanuts that are used each holiday season to protect fragile gifts, but the environment hates them. They take centuries to break down and are rarely recyclable, making these packaging supplies are an environmental nightmare. Luckily, there are many alternatives.

If you have peanuts already, or other shipping materials such as bubble wrap, packing cartons, or newspapers, try to re-use them. If you end up with lots of packing materials from gifts you receive, call the Plastic Loosefill Council's Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214 to find out the local businesses near you that reuse them. There are even some stores that offer discounts for people who return their packaging materials.

You can also use newspapers or magazines you have around the house as packing materials.

Lastly, do you like peanuts but refuse to buy Styrofoam? Try other options like Caremail products, which are sold at Staples, Office Max, Amazon.com or Green Depot. They are made from 100 percent post-consumer content -- and the peanuts even dissolve if you run water over them in a tub or sink.

The waste is biodegradable and won't harm ground or surface water.

Caremail Eco-Packing
Made from 100 post-consumer recycled paper and fully recyclable $29.99 vs. $32.99 for shredded newsprint at Office Max

Caremail Shipping Boxes Made from 100 percent recycled fibers, 90 percent post-consumer
12 pack range from $10.99 to $69.99 depending on sizes, vs. $10.99 -$43.99 for regular shipping boxes at Office Max

Caremail Mailers
Plastic-free
Cushioned with recycled newsprint
90 percent recycled fibers
25-mailer pack for $11.99 vs. $10.49 for regular padded mailers

Geami Products

Geami offers products made from paper that is 100 percent recyclable and compostable.

Tip Two: Pick What You Pack

If you can skip the packing materials completely, all the better. When buying gifts that you know you will be sending through the mail, try to pick items that are easy to ship and require less packaging.

That way, you avoid the problem altogether, while still guaranteeing that your gift won't break while en route.

(Maybe the crystal vase can wait until next year...)

Tip Three: Use the Right Postal Service

If you have to ship packages to get them there in time for Christmas, the U.S. Postal Service is the eco-friendly way to go. It is the first mailing or shipping company to achieve Cradle-to-Cradle environmental certification for its packaging -- which means more fuel efficient vehicles, eco-friendly packaging, and higher environmental standards.

If you send your gifts via Express or Priority Mail, Monday, Dec. 21 is the last day you can send them to make it in time for Christmas, so try to get them together early! And if possible, send them the greenest way you can.

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