Posted on by Paula Gallagher
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also a time when consumption and waste are rampant. According to Stanford University, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.
A few years ago, Time Magazine chose 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate crisis activist, as person of the year. Greta became famous when she gave an impassioned speech about the lack of action from world leaders regarding climate change. It is a good reminder that one person can make a difference, whether it be large or small. Greta started with a hand-painted sign and now has millions of supporters.
With this in mind, this blog is dedicated to the small things we can do over the holidays to be less wasteful. This time of year produces more waste than any other time of year – and much of this waste comes in the form of single-use items.
5 Things You Can Do to Help Reduce Waste
1. Give the gift of time or an experience
A homemade certificate for helping dig a garden, creating a picnic, or providing pet-sitting services is great for the person who could use an extra hand. Personally, the gift of babysitting my children would be appreciated! Tickets to concerts, plays or sporting events; memberships to museums, art galleries or science centers are also great gifts that will bring lasting memories. A donation in the recipient’s name to a cause or organization he or she is passionate about is also a thoughtful gift.
2. Creative wrapping
If you do have a gift to wrap, get creative and reuse what you have on hand, such as newspaper, magazine pages, comics, or even maps. Gift bags can also be reused over and over again.
3. Go LED
LED lights use 90% less energy than traditional Christmas lights, are more durable, and last 10 times longer.
4. Real vs fake
If you celebrate with a tree, real vs fake can be a true debate. When it comes to trees, you have plenty of beautiful options. Live trees can be enjoyed year-round. Ask your local nursery which trees grow best in your area. Artificial trees are cost effective and they can be reused year after year. Cut trees are beautiful – but remember, they take up valuable landfill space, so be sure to have yours composted.
5. Waste less food
Plan your meal carefully and don’t buy extra food you might not need. Give guests leftovers to take home or give care packages to neighbors. Compost food waste (best not to include meat scraps and oily things) and vegetable peelings. Set your table with reusable dishes, utensils, and cloth napkins and tablecloths.
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