Volume 1, Number 8
eMDE is a monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. Additional monthly features include: MDE public meetings and hearings schedule, enforcement and compliance notes, and permitting activity.
Compiled from ENFO - the Environmental Information Service
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The holidays are a time for thinking of family and friends. This year spare a thought for the environment also. Take time to think of the things that you can do to help protect the environment during the season. A little thought and care can make a huge difference toward avoiding environmental damage without spoiling your fun.
This year why not give a gift that makes a difference?
For an Environmentally Friendly Season:
Choose good quality products that will last. Products with a long life minimizes energy used in manufacturing new goods, and avoids the creation of waste.
Avoid disposable products.
Choose products that do not contain Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s.)Check that sprays and similar products are clearly marked “ CFC- free.” or “ozone friendly.” CFC’s damage the ozone layer.
Don’t buy products with excess packaging. Buy unwrapped items and wrap them simply, rather than buying over-packaged goods.
Choose clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton, linen or wool. Some outlets now promote garments made from environmentally friendly cotton.
Choose stationery, cards and other paper products made from recycled paper.
Buy a book that highlights environmental issues and natural resources.
Some manufacturers and retailers develop new ranges of less environmentally damaging products in response to consumer interest and demands. Support these efforts.
At holiday parties, place your recycling bin next to the trash can.
Read labels carefully. Be aware of false or misleading claims that products are safe for the environment.
Pick games with an environmental theme, which help children appreciate the value of our environment and how important it is for us to protect it.
Buy good quality toys that will last and can be used again and again. Choose wooden toys over plastic ones. Avoid cheap looking and disposable toys. Whenever possible, buy toys that can be run from wall sockets rather than batteries.
Special Note on Batteries
Millions of batteries are used every year and the range of appliances and equipment requiring them increases all the time. Many batteries contain hazardous materials, including cadmium and mercury and can cause pollution at disposal.
Here are some useful dos and don’ts on batteries:
Use main power wherever possible. Remember that manufacturing batteries can take up to 50 times more energy than the batteries can provide. Electricity is many times cheaper than batteries.
Switch to rechargeable batteries. A battery charger can make a useful holiday gift.
Look for batteries that are free of mercury and cadmium.
Dispose of batteries carefully. Rechargeable battery recycling locations can be located by dialing 800-8BATTERY. Call your local recycling program for disposal locations.
Use old batteries with new ones. The new batteries try to recharge the old ones, cutting their useful life.
The Christmas Tree
Christmas would not be the same without the traditional tree and decorations. If you’re going to have a tree, opt for a real one rather than a plastic one. Most Christmas trees are grown on managed tree farms or are trimmings from larger forests. They are a renewable resource and generate employment.
If you can, buy a tree with roots in a pot, which you can use year after year. When it grows too big for indoor use, it can be replanted outdoors. It is important to keep a real tree in a cool place and water it frequently. In some areas local authorities offer tree recycling where you can leave your old tree to be shredded after the holidays. Check with local authorities before disposing of your tree many counties and jurisdictions announce their tree recycling programs - visit their websites.
If you buy an artificial tree, select a good quality product, which can be used for many years.
Buying decorations is to buy good quality decorations, which will last year after year. Store the decorations carefully away for next year. Avoid cheaper varieties, which have to be thrown away after only one use. Encourage the children to get involved in making decorations for the tree from everyday household items. After the holidays, children can have fun recycling used wrapping paper by forming small boxes and bows, which can be hung from next year’s tree.
Food for Thought
Where possible try to buy organic fruit and vegetables. Although a little pricier, they are grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment. If demand for organic produce grows, they will be grown in larger quantities and prices will come down. Don’t throw away vegetable peelings. Throw them on your compost heap and make some natural fertilizer for your garden next year.
After the Holidays
When cleaning up after it is all over, remember to recycle as much box and card stock, paper, glass and cans as possible. Recycling information and options are available from county authorities or by visiting the MDE website at:
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