All the Whos Down in Whoville

There’s a difference between going green and going Grinch.  

In an online custom that has become biliously trendy, local agencies blame holidaying folk for creating the bump in extra trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Food, wrapping paper and tossed decorations are the culprits, according to the websites of Hennepin County, Do It Green Minnesota, Minnesota Pollution Agency and Rethink Recycling.

Back off, dudes. Don’t guilt me about using two feet of curling ribbon on my mother’s slipper sox until you outlaw coal plants, build mass transit systems that go where people want to travel and tax private jets enough to pay for more legroom in coach.

I’m all for recycling, reusing and reducing, but the advice from our governmental and other well-meaning bodies on how to do those three things is too often repetitive, obvious to a 4-year-old and just plain silly.

Every one of these sites offer this cunning insight: reuse wrapping paper. Were these guys never invited to a baby shower? Saving wrapping paper is hardly a hot new concept. Most of us have been doing it for years, some of us to such an extent that our homes become featured on the news as garbage houses. Lots of folks use those gift bag dealies over and over again and some innovators, like me, just lob unwrapped presents at people from across the room.

Rethink Recycle of the Twin Cities adds a new wrinkle to the hackneyed suggestion: press last year’s wrinkled wrapping paper with an iron. Oh, sure. Never mind the electricity that little activity consumes, and forget about the water the fire department wastes trying to put out the flames of your family room as it burns to the ground.

RR of the TC also counsels us to “plan meals wisely and practice portion control,” as if restraint is what the holidays are all about. Come over to my house for dinner, boys, and just try to get between my father and the mashed potatoes. That is, if you have a death wish and don’t mind the gasoline consumed by the ambulance rushing over here trying to save you.

Hennepin County’s top five list of ways to limit holiday trash includes “use reusable tableware” and the RR site adds this insensitive caveat: “If you don’t have enough, ask to borrow reusable tableware from friends and family.” Just how does that particular moment of holiday etiquette go down? “Hi, Cousin Carolyn. We’re having everyone except you over for the holidays. Could we borrow your 12 place settings of Spode?” But don’t blame RR of the TC for this odd bit of Anti-Emily-Postness, because the same advice appears on other local sites.

All these pages repeat each other’s stuff, over and over. Recycling advice; could be a thrifty move. On the other hand, do we need two dozen organizations to tell us the same information? Why spend resources making lists this mundane and elementary?

I have an enormous extended family, Christmas looks like Kmart blew up in the living room, and once the lefse is eaten and the lutefisk tossed out into the snow (hey, it’s biodegradable — we think), all the gift wrap 30 people can produce can be smunched down into one Hefty bag. Break down the cardboard boxes, rope ’em up with twine, and voila! Two kids under 10 can carry the stuff to the garbage.

Two kids can’t do a thing about those private jets.

Pamela Hill Nettleton lives on a Whittier block where two group homes clutter the alley with abandoned appliances and furniture, but don’t worry: she’s wrapping her holiday gifts in convenience food wrappers collected off the sidewalk.