Written By: Piper Penney
As the holiday season approaches, Americans are heading out to buy gifts for their family members. But according to Use Less Stuff, an organization that encourages waste reduction, Americans throw out an extra 25 million tons of holiday-related garbage between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The increase in waste means that more garbage is going to landfills, which is not good for the Earth as it increases greenhouse gas emissions. To try and avoid the many mounds of wrapping paper, food waste, and just general garbage that arise from the holidays, here are some tips to help make your holiday a more eco-friendly one.
Gift Wrapping Tips
- Reuse paper products to create a more sustainable form of wrapping paper. Pages from magazines, newspapers, and even paper maps can be used to wrap gifts. You can also use reusable containers such as tins, baskets, boxes, and jars.
- If you prefer to use traditional wrapping paper, try to buy paper made out of recycled materials.
- At the end of the holiday season, you can recycle traditional paper products such as the magazine pages mentioned above as well as paper-based wrapping paper to avoid sending all of your waste to a landfill.
- Additionally, avoid wrapping paper that uses glitter or is not paper-based (metallic or foil wrapping paper) as you cannot recycle these.
- Plastic bows and ribbons cannot be recycled. For an eco-friendly alternative, simply buy a ribbon made out of cloth or pieces of fabric that can be reused for multiple gifts over the years without the need of tape or plastic.
- Skip the holiday card aisle and send electronic holiday cards. It reduces paper waste. If you still want to send physical cards, check to make sure that they are printed on recycled paper.
- For a gift wrap free present, give the gift of an event, whether that be tickets to a concert, a camping trip, a night out, or whatever else you may choose.
Food Waste Tips
- According to the Worldwatch Institute, 33% more food is thrown away during the holidays. To try and avoid throwing out more than you need to, plan out your meals before you make them. Ensure that you are buying enough food for each person, but that you have not bought too much or have bought items that not too many people will eat, as those foods will more than likely end up in the trash at the end of your feast.
- Use up whatever leftovers you can. Depending on what you have left over, you may even be able to use what you have left in a new recipe.
- If you cannot eat it, you can put some of your leftover food into a compost container. As far as food products go, the United States EPA recommends that you only compost fruits and vegetables, as meats, dairy, and eggs (although eggshells are okay to go in the bin) will cause an odor and will attract unwanted pests.
Christmas Tree Tips
- If you buy a real tree, check to see if a local waste processing center offers Christmas tree recycling. Select locations in Miami-Dade and Broward county let residents drop their trees off so that they can be made into mulch.
Have a happy and green holiday!