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Reduce holiday waste this season

‘Tis the season to celebrate, but how can we do it without sending an extra five-million tons of trash to the landfills? Consider these easy ways to give a valuable gift to all — a cleaner environment with less trash.

  1. Wrap it up

Most wrapping paper and bows are not recycable. Look for recycled-content wrapping paper to wrap your gifts. Or, choose paper that’s recyclable such as brown kraft paper that is sold in stores or reuse paper grocery bags. It can be decorated with stamps, color and festive bows. Or, get creative with old maps, posters or leftover wallpaper. For kitchen gifts, wrap it up in a dishtowel, tablecloth or napkin. Oftentimes, bows and ribbons can also be reused from year to year. If every family in the U.S. reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  1. Party with zero waste

Holiday parties don’t have to leave you with lots of trash. Start with invitations printed on recycled paper – or send an email invite. Use real plates, glasses, linens and utensils, instead of disposable items. If you don’t own enough, borrow some or check a thrift store. If you decide to use paper napkins, choose some with recycled content.

The day of the party set up convenient recycling containers for bottles and cans. Set out baskets to collect ribbons and bows that can be reused. Then offer them to guests as they leave.

  1. Send party leftovers with guests

Use up that stack of whipped cream, butter, and cottage cheese containers by sending food home with guests. Not only will you reuse the plastic containers, but you will also cut down or eliminate the food waste from holiday gatherings. Encourage the recipients to reuse them, too.

  1. Recycle holiday lights

     Conventional incandescent holiday bulbs use 80 to 90 percent more electricity than LED (light emitting diode) lights. Replace your old strings with LED lights, then find a drop-off site to recycle old and broken lights at KC Recycle Lights.

  1. Minimize unwanted mail

     If holiday catalogues are clogging your mail box, help reduce paper waste by having your name removed from mailing lists. A free, quick and easy way to do this is by visiting Direct Mail. Be sure to recycle the ones you do get.

  1. Go natural, or reuse holiday decor

     Using natural items from your yard or garden, such as flower heads, holly or pinecones, is a nice way to get a fresh holiday look. As a bonus, the beautiful bounty can be composted after the season. Make an inventory of your holiday decorations and try to use them without buying new. Trading with friends gives everyone a new look without buying anything new. If you want to get rid of old decorations, donate them to a good cause. Just try to keep them out of the landfill.


Photo: Susy Morris // CC BY

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