WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The holiday shopping season is in full swing and all of those gifts being delivered bring a lot more than joy.
From getting them to your front door to the way they’re packaged results in plenty of pollution. Billions of deliveries are happening this holiday season. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, it’s why environmental advocates are urging you to think “green” on everything from the way you order your gifts for delivery to the way you dispose of the packaging. There’s no shortage of cardboard that gets dropped off at Bielecki Scrap and Recycling Center in Wilkes-Barre.
Worker Gregory Thompson said, “I’m very impressed how much cardboard comes through here, you know, every day. It’s mountains and mountains of it.”
A mountain that’s seemingly growing by the day. USPS, UPS, FedEx and other nation-wide carriers are expected to deliver 180 million Amazon packages alone during the holiday season.
“There are so many ways our consumption patterns affect the planet,” said George Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sabrina McCormick, Ph.D.
She points to the U.S. transportation sector which by making holiday season and deliveries year-round emits more greenhouse gases than all the U.S. coal, oil, and gas-fired energy plants combined. Even the short term effects of those pollutants can impact your health.
“The increase of asthma rates as well as increases in heart attacks actually, so exposure to air pollution increases both of those illnesses,” said Dr. McCormick.
Long term exposure to these pollutants is linked to increases in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases not to mention the impact on Mother Earth.
“This affects the animals, the trees. The oceans even are absorbing a lot of those emissions,” said Dr. McCormick who urges a “green” call to action starting with the way you fill your gift list.
Besides buying local or vintage, she recommends strategy when you purchase online.
“Have as few deliveries to our homes as possible so this means filling that online cart up all together rather than having one delivery after the next,” Dr. McCormick said.
And when it comes time to dispose of packaging, remember to sort what can be recycled. Dr. McCormick said, “It may seem like something that is a very small act but if we all act together we can make a real difference.”
The national non-profit The Recycling Partnership is out with its top ten list of holiday recycling tips to help you go green this holiday season.