The holiday season is a time of joy, family, friends, warm drinks, lights, and laughter. However it is also a time where there is an increase in waste. According to RecycleWorks in San Mateo county, household waste increased by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Here are five things you can do to diminish your holiday waste:
1. Reuse or reduce your wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is bought to wrap presents, after which it is torn off and thrown away (sometimes recycled). Try reusing wrapping paper from previous gift-givings or using gift bags which are even easier to keep and reuse year after year. You can also use paper bags you were going to recycle anyway, and decorate and color them any which way. One more possibility is making reusable gift bags out of cloth that you can give with the gift or collect back to reuse next year.
2. Use Sustainable Dishware
Instead of using disposable dishes and utensils for your holiday parties and dinners, choose to use reusable dishware.If you don’t have enough you can always borrow from a friend or ask guests to bring some. If you end up having to use disposable dishware, buy some that come from recycled or compostable material. If you plan on using straws, check out reusable straws, you can even consider giving them as stocking stuffers. In addition, make sure your guests know where your recycling bin is so they don’t place their empty bottles and cans in the trash.
3. Decrease Food Waste
One way to decrease food waste is to avoid overbuying food. Plan ahead and figure out exactly how much food. This will help decrease the amount of food waste you might end up throwing away. Also consider buying your food in bulk to decrease packaging, and don’t forget your reusable grocery bag. If you find yourself with a lot of leftover food, invite some friends ever to help you finish your leftovers.
4. Recycle Your Tree
According to CalRecycle, an estimated 15 million used Christmas trees end up in the landfill every year. Consider getting an artificial Christmas tree, one that you can reuse year after year and not have to throw away after the holidays. If you prefer a real tree, look into local recycling programs in your area that collect trees after the holidays. They can then be recycled into other products, such as mulch to help in water conservation. You can also reuse the branches and pine needles in wreaths or holiday crafts.
5. Repurpose or Reduce Holiday Cards
Billions of holiday cards are sent each year in the United States. These cards are usually read and displayed on fire mantles for two weeks, after which they are thrown away or recycled. If every family sent one less card, thousands of cubic ft of paper would be saved. Instead of sending a paper card, consider sending an electronic holiday card or calling someone to wish them happy holidays. In regards to the paper cards you receive, try repurposing them. Cards with beautiful pictures or designs can be made into decorations for next year. They can also be cut into gift tags for next year’s gifts. Sometimes you can donate them to community centers or day cares, where they are used for arts and crafts projects. Remember to recycle and not throw away paper cards.
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