The holiday season is filled with excitement, but it can also be filled with extra trash going out to your curb for pick-up. It is estimated that waste generation goes up by 25 percent during Christmastime. But you don't have to be part of this statistic. By actively working to reduce your household waste with the following strategies, you can truly have a green Christmas.
Poinsettias, Christmas trees, boughs of evergreens, and living mistletoe all make up part of the festive decor during this time of year. However, when the season ends, these should not end up in trash bags waiting to go to the landfill. Instead, you can recycle living waste so that it is reused in your community. Christmas trees can be turned into mulch, as can other woody evergreens. Poinsettias can be left to decompose in a garden space or put into your compost. If your neighborhood does not offer a recycling service, ask a waste management service like B-P Trucking Inc for information on how to correctly dispose of your trees and other plants.
Choosing a fake tree may be an option for some homeowners, but using a real tree is actually better for the environment if you choose to recycle the tree after use.
Your living room might be covered with plastic packages, boxes, and paper after gifts are unwrapped. These can all be recycled, along with packing peanuts and other foam packaging. Take the time to sort through the mess and put all paper, metal, and glass waste (including eggnog and milk cartons after a holiday breakfast) into the recycle bin instead of the trash can.
2. Practice minimal-waste gift giving.
Gifts can be wrapped many times, which allows for paper, ribbon, and bows to hit the trash can after presents are opened. Instead of using disposable wrappings, you can practice sustainable gift practices by:
- choosing cloth bags for gifts. Purchasing festive cloth bags may cost more at first, but they are easily opened and reused without sacrificing traditional gift-giving decor.
- giving gift cards instead of gifts themselves. Gift cards do not need to be wrapped, and when they are used, people can opt to forgo plastic shopping bags.
- using phone calls or e-cards to say Happy Holidays instead of sending cards in envelopes which will both be thrown away.
- reusing or repurposing other materials for gift wrap. For example, many packages ordered online come in boxes with brown paper as packing material. This brown paper, along with newspaper, can be used instead of traditional gift wrap.
3. Don't send food to the dump.
Thanksgiving and Christmas (along with other holidays around the same time) lend to plenty of food on the table and plenty of leftovers afterward. If nobody ends up eating Aunt Edna's fruitcake, don't just toss it in the trash. Food waste is a huge problem, as 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted each year, and the gluttony of the holiday season only adds to this number. You can reduce the amount of food in your trash can by:
- putting unwanted leftovers in the compost.
- donating unopened packages of food to the food bank.
- giving leftovers away to friends and neighbors.
- minimizing your menu to create less waste.
- discouraging guests from bringing food contributions to Christmas dinner unless they are needed for the meal.
- putting food in the freezer immediately following the feast so that it doesn't go bad in the fridge.
Christmas is a time of good cheer and giving, but it does not need to be a season of excess waste. For more trash-reduction ideas, contact a local waste management company about what resources are available in your community.