It’s estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, more than 1 million tons of additional waste is generated each week nationwide. In fact, 38,000 miles of ribbon alone is thrown out each year . . . that’s enough to tie a bow around the Earth!
Rethink your Holiday by following a few of these waste reduction tips:
- Give a Gift Card. More than two-thirds of American consumers purchase at least one gift card as a holiday present for a loved one. They’re appreciated, they never expire, and they require no fancy gift-wrapping.
- Repurpose Old Holiday Cards. You can turn them into a postcard and reuse them again. Or, cut up cards to be used as gift tags, bookmarks, greeting cards, place mats, or decorations.
- Say ‘Happy Holidays’ a Different Way. An estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States, enough to fill a football field 10 stores high. If every family reduced their mailing list by just one card, the nation would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. If you have Internet access, consider sending electronic holiday cards this year. Check the selection at commercial sites like hallmark.com, bluemountain.com, or 123christmascards.com. You can also check charitable support groups like care2.com, or conservation groups like The Nature Conservancy.
- Use Reusable Bags. Headed out to the mall for some holiday shopping? Take along a reusable shopping bag and you’ll help reduce the number of single-use, disposable bags distributed by retailers.
- Buy Foods in Bulk & Compost the Leftovers. Consider buying food and holiday snacks in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Be sure to compost the leftovers—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates nearly 95 billion pounds of edible food, or 27 percent of the U.S. food supply, end up being wasted each year.
- Buy Local. Look for locally grown products for your holiday meal—it’s estimated the ingredients for the average U.S. meal travel 1,200 miles by the time they are served. Choosing food products that are in season, and not flown in from a tropical climate, is better for the environment. Consider products from a local farmers’ market. Check out the Santa Fe Farmers Market or support the Farm to Restaurants participants in Santa Fe.
- Recycle your Tree. Nationwide, an estimated 30 million used Christmas trees end up in landfills. You can recycle them as green waste or turn them into mulch for water conservation and weed control in the garden. Or, consider an artificial tree or a “living” tree that can be replanted in the yard.
- Consider the Environment. Sprayed-on artificial snow can be made from environmentally harmful components and hinder the ability to recycle a Christmas tree. For more Earth-friendly artificial snow, sprinkle on some baking powder. Never burn Christmas trees or holiday wrapping paper in a fireplace or wood stove, because they can spark a chimney fire..
- Make Room for New Gadgets & Toys. Donate your unwanted toys, clothes, electronics, and furniture to one of the local donation centers. If your electronic doesn’t work, you can recycle it at BuRRT!
- Recycle Old Holiday Lights. Recycle broken or burned-out holiday lights by mailing them to Christmas Light Source Recycling Program, 1923 6th Ave., Ft. Worth, Texas 76110. The bulbs will be recycled, and proceeds will be used to purchase books for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. You’ll also get a coupon to save 10 percent on a future order of replacement bulbs.
- Save on Gift Wrap. Save and reuse gift wrapping paper from previous years, or make some from butcher paper, reused brown paper bags, newspapers, and fabric. Shop for recycled-content holiday wrapping paper, or wrapping paper sold by charity groups that raise funds to preserve rain forests. Thrift shops often have good prices on leftover holiday wrapping paper.
- Think Outside of the Gift Box. Reuse old packaging, cereal, or cracker boxes. It’s free!
- Opt out of Junk Mail. Overwhelmed with holiday catalogs received in the mail? Opt out at Catalog Choice. It’s free for Santa Feans!
- Buy Reusable Batteries. About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. In 2006 alone, more than 40 billion single-use batteries were sold worldwide. Consider purchasing rechargeable batteries instead; they can be used again and again. See where you can recycle your used batteries.
- Reduce the Packaging. Be sure to pack presents in appropriate sized boxes. Use old newspaper for stuffing instead of buying peanuts. Or, recycle your packaging peanuts when you’re done with them.
- Green your Holiday Meal. Use a cloth tablecloth or a washable plastic tablecloth instead of purchasing single-use paper tablecloths for your holiday meal tables. Recycle cotton or cotton-blend fabric remnants into napkins. When possible, use washables over disposables. If you need more reusable dishware, consider local thrift stores.
- Drive Smart. Plan your holiday shopping outings on a map or a GPS unit to determine the most efficient driving route—you’ll drive fewer miles, reduce greenhouse emissions, and spend less when you fill up at the pump.
- Check Your Tire Pressure. Going to grandma’s house for a holiday dinner? Before your trip, make sure tires are properly inflated to increase fuel economy and drive safely. A reduction of one gallon of gasoline used by every U.S. household this holiday season would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons.
Shout out to CalRecycle for helpful tips!