Reduce waste and save money this holiday season
During this year’s holiday season, people can help the environment and their pocketbooks by taking a few simple recycling and waste reduction steps.
“From recycling holiday lights and buying environmentally friendly gifts, to creative reuse of materials in decorations and gift-wrapping, the holiday season offers plenty of opportunities to reduce waste, help the environment and save money,” said Elisabeth Olson, waste reduction educator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources.
Giving and sharing during the holiday season can add up to additional waste with extra gift wrap, extra packaging, disposable dishes, leftover food and more. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the volume of household waste increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That’s about one million extra tons of waste sent to landfills across the country each year.
For a variety of ideas for things people can do to reduce waste during the holiday season, search the DNR website for “Recycling for All Seasons.”
Holiday decorations and parties
Have lights that no longer work? Many companies accept used light strings for recycling and may even offer a discount on new lights. Check with local retailers or search online for details. Check with your local recycling programs, too-they may take string lights for recycling during the holiday season.
Replace old string lights with energy-efficient LED lights.
Use a timer to turn off holiday lights when no one is awake to enjoy them.
At holiday parties, use washable plates, cups, silverware, tablecloths and napkins instead of disposables. Divide leftovers among guests so extra food is eaten and not wasted.
Gift-giving and wrapping
Give family and friends state park or trail passes, gift cards for a lunch out, or tickets to a concert or sports game, which creates memories but not very much waste!
Look for gifts with little or no packaging, or packaging that can be easily recycled or reused. Bring reusable bags when going out to shop. Wrap gifts in Sunday comics or old maps. Reuse brown paper bags from the grocery store as gift wrap dressed up with colorful ribbons or bows.
When gifts are being opened, have a bag ready to collect wrapping paper for recycling – many people don’t realize that most wrapping paper is recyclable, except for the foil type.
Save gift boxes, gift bags and bows to wrap future birthday presents or to use next holiday season. Recycle the boxes that are torn or no longer useable.
Save holiday greeting cards to use as post cards or gift tags next year. If they are disposed of, make sure they go into recycling.
After the decorations are removed from the Christmas tree, put it in a corner of the yard to provide winter cover for rabbits and birds. In the spring, chip the tree and use it for mulch.