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(MCT)—Is your holiday shopping list getting shorter now with all those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? As you begin checking your list twice, you’ll soon start sending out presents that need to get to love ones far away. Do Your Part and seek out less wasteful shipping solutions that are easy on you and the planet.

If you’re ordering online, consider shipping the gift directly to the recipient. Many online retailers have gift-wrapping options available. And Amazon.com has a new feature that I’m sure many shoppers will love. It’s called ‘Frustration-Free Packaging.’ This option is available on more than 70,000 products and it means those items will come without hard plastic clamshell casing, plastic bindings, and wire ties. Sometimes the item is even shipped in its original box rather than being packaged in another. Here’s the best part. These “Frustration-Free Packaging” items were never over-packaged. Instead, Amazon works directly with manufacturers to get them off the assembly line and to you or your loved one with the least amount of waste.

If you are shipping from home, reusing boxes you already have is always a smart idea. It could be as simple as shoebox or a bigger one that you’ve stashed away just for this time of year. The United States Postal Service also makes it easy to go green no matter what you send. Their boxes are 100 percent recyclable, made from recycled content, and Cradle to Cradle certified. You can go online and have the USPS deliver boxes right to your door along with stamps. You can also schedule pick-ups once your package is ready for shipment.

When it comes to protecting your fragile presents, items you already have could be the perfect solution. Bunches of newspaper or magazine pages, shredded bills, plastic bags and any saved packing peanuts all work well. If you need to purchase materials, consider CareMail’s line of biodegradable packing peanuts made from corn and potato starch. They actually dissolve in water. You can buy them at Staples, OfficeMax and online. If you receive a package loaded with traditional Styrofoam packing peanuts this season, don’t trash them. Most any Parcel Post location will accept and reuse them. You can find more information on greener shipping products at DoYourPart.com/columns.

Just a few of these smarter shipping solutions will help you give back to the planet during this season of giving. It’s the perfect way to show your family and friends how you Do Your Part to care about the world around us. That’s another important lesson for each one of us during this special time of year.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author, and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.

© 2011, Terri Bennett Enterprises, LLC.

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