Reduce Holiday Waste

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, holiday waste increases on average more than 25 percent.  Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons; it all adds up.  And it’s not just trash. The average American spends $800 on gifts over the holiday season. That’s a lot of merchandise, and consequently, a lot of waste.  Read on to find how you can reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season.

  • Use rechargeable batteries:  Along with gifts and gadgets come batteries.  These little power generators, while handy, can be potentially harmful if they end up in the landfill.  Plus, rechargeable batteries can save money in the long run.
  • Turn off your lights:  Turn off holiday lights during the day and overnight.  Not only will you save electricity, but your lights will last longer.
  • Give non-material gifts:  Sometimes, the gift of time can be the best gift of all.  Consider making a charitable donation in someone’s name.  Make coupons that offer babysitting services, pet walking, or a night out.  Give a membership to a zoo, museum, or park.  Buy karate lessons, dance lessons, or photography lessons.
  • Reduce food waste:  Plan your holiday menu smart by calculating (realistically) how much food will be consumed.  Compost food scraps in the garden.  Items such as vegetable peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds are great for prepping the spring soil (do not compost meat and dairy products).
  • Digital cards:  Reduce paper waste by sending holiday e-cards, or using by using cards that are printed on recycled paper.
  • Wrap smart:  Don’t go out and buy wrapping paper that will end up in the trash.  Get creative with wrapping by using items such as scarves, bandannas, and maps.  Reuse old newspapers as gift wrap.  Save gift bags and they can be used year after year.  If you must purchase paper, be sure that it is made from recycled materials.
  • Cloth bags:  When you make your shopping trips, bring along several reusable cloth bags for your purchases.  If you do end up using plastic or paper bags from the store, keep them out of the landfill by recycling them.
  • Give quality gifts:  Give gifts that will last for a long time, or that can be repurposed after time.  Unfortunately, cheap, poor quality items tend to break and wear out quickly, sending them to the landfill after not much use.

There are many ways that you can reduce the amount of waste produced during the holidays with just a bit of forethought and preplanning.  Don’t forget to check the holiday garbage pick-up schedule at for those items that do end up in the trash.