The holiday season is a special time of year. Individuals often spend a little more on gifts, indulge a little more on rich foods and treats and make a concerted effort to enjoy more time with their loved ones during the holidays.
The tendency to overdo things during the holiday season can create a lot of waste. In fact, Americans produce 25 percent more garbage from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, according to Waste Advantage magazine, a publication of the waste and recycling industry. That uptick equates to one million tons of extra trash per week throughout the holidays.
Extra food, plastic and paper waste is generated this time of year, but people can be mindful of the potential to go overboard and take some steps to be more waste-conscious as they entertain.
• Reuse a small portion of wrapping paper or look for other wrapping items. Sunday comics, newsprint, colorful magazine pages, and even pieces of fabric can be used to wrap gifts in lieu of purchasing new wrapping paper. Otherwise, collect used wrapping paper and reuse it next year, doing the same with boxes and bows. According to researchers at Stanford University, if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
• Skip disposable party items. It’s certainly easy to use disposable plates, napkins and cups when hosting holiday parties, but that is very wasteful. Opt for durable, reusable products that can be packed away and used each year during holiday events.
• Buy durable and reusable items as gifts. Avoid fad gifts and focus on items that will have staying power. Homemade gifts, such as foods, knitted scarves, artwork, and more, are generally eco-friendly.
• Set up marked trash and recycling receptacles. Remind party guests to recycle the appropriate materials by clearly marking a pail designed for collecting recyclables, such as cans, plastic beverage bottles and glass wine bottles. Most hard plastics can be recycled.
• Remove your name from catalog lists. Call companies and ask to be taken off promotional mailing lists to reduce paper waste.
• Send a photo. Mail holiday card recipients photos of the kids or the entire family in lieu of cards. They’re apt to save the photos and display them, helping to keep even more paper trash out of landfills.
• Research new recipes for leftovers. With an abundance of food remaining after entertaining, turn leftovers into new meals by exploring recipes from friends or by doing a little research online.
Waste can get out of control during the holidays, but there are ways to tame the excess.