By Autumn Huggins
Here are a few holiday trash facts for you:
Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday season than any other time of year. This extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons of trash.*
If every family in the U.S. reused just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we'd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
* Bob Lilienfeld/The Use Less Stuff Reporthttp://www.holidayrecycling.com/
So, what to do with all of the excess?
Well, first thing’s first, perhaps we can be more mindful of the waste ahead of time, so that we can make some wise decisions while on our shopping trips. It would be a relief to both our pocketbooks and the local dumps to buy less than we may normally. If you are like me, as much as you may try to “do less this year”, you will likely find yourself in the same predicament this year as you have in the past, so there are a few tips we can easily incorporate to make a difference during these times of over-indulgence.
No matter what celebrations each home may partake, or if none at all, these tips should come in handy for any season.
- Buy less…(good luck with that one)
- Use reusable shopping bags! This will help at department stores and grocery stores.
- Spend your money on durable, useful items rather than things that will be useless or broken in a week.
- Buy recyclable wrapping paper and packaging materials, and if possible preserve them for another use. Gift boxes, bows and bags are great for multiple uses…or re-gifting.
- Send electronic cards instead of paper.
- Give people things that you no longer want. What is no longer useful to you, may be just what someone else needs!
- Share your leftover foods with neighbors, the homeless, or compost.
- Separate and recycle everything you can. When time is short, we sometimes want to throw everything away. Taking a few extra minutes for recycling makes a big difference. In states like Oregon, with a 5 cent bottle return, it pays to recycle!! If you don’t have time to return the bottles and cans, there are surely other people who wouldn’t mind taking the task off of your hand.
- Recycle your trees! According to the EPA, “Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year.” They recommend that you contact your local community solid waste department to see if they collect and mulch trees. Many communities offer a pick-up and recycling service for a small fee, or donation. There is also the option of investing in an artificial tree which may last throughout generations.
For what essentially adds up to a few days of celebration, our impact on the environment is much greater than we realize. Any little thing we can do is a step in the right direction.