Reducing Holiday Season Waste

By Melanie Stewart

Every year holiday consumption causes waste to increase by 25% (1 million tons/week more to landfills) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  This year the holidays will look different, with less traveling and in-person get-togethers.  It will be a challenge, but worth it your safety and health.

Consider some new holiday traditions that focus on the things that really matter, including your sanity. Kids can get involved, you can save time and money, reduce waste too.

  • If you exchange gifts, consider buying experiences that can be used post-vaccine, get something that can be used to spend time together, or make donations instead of buying stuff. If you do buy gifts, look for locally made items and in packages that can be reused or that contain recycled content and are recyclable.
  • Consolidate your online gift and/or food shopping to save curbside pickups and reduce shipping and packing materials.
  • Wrap gifts in reused materials. If every American household wrapped 3 gifts in reused materials (brown paper, maps, Sunday comics, cloth bags, cereal boxes) enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields!  For everything else, use recycled content paper and reusable gift-bags, boxes, and bows.
  • Recycle old lights to help local groups and replace them with new, efficient, LED lights, which use 70% less
  • Don’t use single use plates, cups, or utensils. If you already have them, check to see if they are recyclable.
  • Consider sending E-cards; saving trees, your time, and money. Recycle or reuse any cards you receive for decoration, future gift tags, or craft projects.
  • If batteries are needed, buy rechargeable—they’ll save you money and trips to the store in the long run. Recycle single use batteries.
  • Check your thermostat: more cooking means the temp can be lowered. Every 2 degrees lower saves $100 a year, saves the equivalent carbon emissions as driving a car 3,000 miles, and people get to be comfortable in their (reused) ugly Christmas sweaters.
  • Reduce junk mail by contacting Catalog Choice to remove your name from marketers’ databases.
  • Instead of a cut tree, buy a live tree to decorate that can be planted in your yard once the holiday season is over. Dig the hole now, before the ground freezes.

If you buy a cut tree, leave it in your yard for birds during the winter and then compost, or take it to the city’s recycling sites

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