Did you know Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to the New Year than any other time of year? This extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons of trash. While making your way through the holidays, keep in mind these ways to reuse and recycle to reduce that waste.
- Reuse Holiday Ribbon. If each family reused just 2 feet of ribbon each year, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
- Use Reusable Shopping Bags. This will reduce the number of plastic bags that get trashed and minimize the amount of petroleum used to make them. If you receive plastic bags, remember to recycle the clean ones at your local grocery store or reuse them as packing material when shipping gifts.
- Reuse Packing Materials. If you’re shipping gifts, reuse plastic shopping bags or packing peanuts from other shipped items. Wadded newspapers also make good packaging material.
- Recycle Gift Wrap. Neatly unwrapping items allows you to reuse the paper for the next year. If you buy gift wrapping, avoid materials that are not recyclable or reusable, such as foil or metallic papers. Always buy recycled-content wrapping paper. Or;
- Try Creative Gift Wrapping. Use unconventional items to wrap your gifts instead of store-bought papers. Use scarves or baby blankets. Try items that are part of the gift, like a stock pot filled with kitchen items, watering can with gardening tools and seeds, or a storage basket with small toys or crafting items. Challenge your family to see who can be most creative with natural, reusable, recycled or repurposed raw materials. Take a vote before opening and give the winner a prize!
- Reuse Holiday Cards. Make your own cards or gift tags out of last year’s cards and the wrapping paper you saved. Frame pretty cards in fancy frames or shadow boxes to use as holiday decor. If you send holiday cards, buy recycled-content cards and envelopes. Or, send your holiday greetings in electronic form. E-cards can be enhanced with sound and animation and they create no physical waste!
- Replace Batteries with Rechargeables. Rechargeable batteries are a great way to cut down on the consumption of batteries. Consider giving a charger and rechargeable batteries as a companion gift to any electronic presents.
- Recycle Trees and Wreaths. Most areas offer free or low cost drop-off to residents at the end of the season.
- Reduce Unwanted Mail. Remove your name from the mailing list of any catalog you no longer wish to receive. Eliminate unwanted credit offers by calling 1-888-5OptOut (1-888-567-8688) or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Bring Reusable Containers to Dinners. Label the dish with your name and take it back home with you instead of using throwaway containers. Or, make the container a gift to the host/hostess at the end of the meal.
- Buy Upcycled Gifts. Many crafty artisans use recycled materials to create a host of cute decor, jewelry, clothing and more. Consider buying these items instead of a brand new one. Local gift shops and websites like www.etsy.com have hundreds of them. Or, check out sites like www.pinterest.com to get ideas on how to make your own gifts from recycled items!
Remember, every little thing you do to reduce the amount of garbage produced helps keep waste out of the landfills in someone elses backyard. Here’s to a happy, eco-friendly holiday season!