The holidays don’t just leave us with gifts, leftover food and the anticipation of a New Year; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that household waste increases by more than 25 percent from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year, according to the EPA.
Reduce your tree and wreath waste after the holidays by composting, replanting or recycling.
In the U.S., gift wrap and bags total 4 million tons of trash throughout the year. Purchase earth-friendly gift wrap to recycle later. Avoid metallic or plastic wrapping paper because it is not recyclable.
Reuse wrapping decorations such as ribbons and bows. According to Stanford University Land Buildings and Real Estate, “If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.”
Instead of buying new lights every year, invest in LED light strands that are wired in parallel so if one bulb goes bad, the others still work. They also require less energy and are more durable. Holiday lights contain brass, copper and plastic and can ultimately be recycled into new items.
Holiday food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons of waste a week in landfills. Replace plastic dinnerware, cutlery and other paper products with washable dishes and cloth napkins. We can unload the dishwasher, but we can’t unload the landfills.
At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year, which breaks down to over 100 pounds of food waste per person. Buy the food you need, store leftovers and compost what you can’t eat.