Don’t Let the Holidays Go to Waste

It goes without saying that everyone loves the holidays.  For just a few weeks out of the year, we’re encouraged to indulge – expected to eat more, drink more, and buy more.  As a result, we also throw away more.  Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans produce an estimated 25 percent more trash than any other time of the year?

Between the discarded food and food packaging, shopping bags, wrapping paper, greeting cards, ribbons, bows, and boxes, the extra waste adds up to an additional 1 million tons of garbage per week for five weeks.  Here are some tips for reducing holiday waste that can save you time and money, reduce your stress level, and benefit the environment.

  • Give gifts that don’t need to be wrapped.  Tickets, gift cards, and house plants are all good options.
  • If you do need to wrap, use old posters, maps, blueprints, or the funny pages as wrapping paper.
  • When opening presents, set aside a box to collect reusable wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and other decorations.
  • Send e-cards instead of regular greeting cards.
  • Use a cloth bag when holiday shopping.  Millions of paper and plastic bags end up in landfills every year.
  • Avoid gag gifts.  They usually end up in the trash.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and a battery charger to go with your electronic gifts.  This can reduce the amount of discarded hazardous materials and save you money in the long run.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
  • If hosting a party, don’t use disposable products.  Make it special with real plates, cloth napkins, and silverware.
  • Ask your guests to bring reusable containers so they can take home any leftovers.
  • Create your own decorations with natural products like holly, berries, other fruits and nuts.  All of these can be composted.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree.  Contact your local recycling coordinator to find out what kinds of opportunities exist in your community.  Some towns use the chippings from mulched trees for public works projects.