Ways to reduce holiday waste

During the holidays, garbage tends to pile up. Between leftover food from a family feast to the plastic packaging that seems to enclose every toy, Americans throw out an extra 25 million tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There are simple things that every consumer can do to curb their waste during this time of year. Here are five ways to limit the amount of waste that’s dragged to the curb:

  1. Find an alternative to wrapping paper

Wrapping paper is used once and thrown away. Rather than using wrapping paper, consider wrapping gifts with pages from a magazine or have the kids paint old newspaper that can double as gift wrap. If everyone wrapped a few presents with re-purposed material, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

If you do use wrapping paper, buy paper that’s recyclable. Most paper can be recycled, but paper that has glitter or small metallic pieces can’t be.

  1. Convert to digital holiday cards

Over two billion holiday cards are sent each year. While cards are great to send and receive, inevitably they become part of the holiday garbage heap. This year, try sending a digital card. There are plenty of e-card companies that offer premade templates. Try sites like JibJab for a comical card or Smilebox for a more traditional card.

If you want to stick with paper cards, try to send ones that are made from recyclable materials.

  1. Mulch your tree

If your family puts up a real tree for the holiday, consider sending it through a wood chipper when you’re done with it. By doing so, you can give the tree another use as mulch in a flower bed or garden.

If you’d rather not go to this kind of trouble, see if your local garbage hauler or recycler takes trees. Many do. Some even have programs that turn trees into mulch that’s used throughout the community.

  1. Don’t trash your broken strings of lights

What household doesn’t have a string or two of useless holiday lights? Rather than tossing these tangled strings in the garbage, consider recycling them. Contact your local recycling company and see if they have a drop-off program, or send the lights to HolidayLEDs.com, which gives you a coupon to buy more lights on its website.

  1. Send leftovers home with guests

If you’re having people over for a celebration, you’ll probably have some leftovers. Usually, there’s too much food for one family to eat so consider sending it home with guests. Before the gettogether, buy some cheap, festive containers so you can send leftovers home and keep food scraps from the landfill.

While there are ways to limit your landfill contributions during the holiday season, it’s something you should consider year-round. To curb your waste throughout the year, refilling bottles of your favorite household goods like cleaners and soaps could go a long way. This kind of refillable technology exists, but consumers like you need to show retailers that it’s something you want. Sign the petition today to curb waste every day, not just during the holiday season.