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Tips for Reducing Holiday Trash

Armen Hareyan's picture

Holiday Trash

Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's than they do at any other time of the year. This translates into an extra 25 million tons of garbage sent to landfills and incinerators.

It takes valuable resources to dispose of the additional waste, and even more resources to make the materials in the first place. For example, according to The Use Less Stuff Report, 2.65 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States each year. That is enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. If each person sent one less card, 50,000 cubic yards of paper would be saved per year.

Consider the following tips to reduce holiday waste and save money.

Choose a living Christmas tree. When the holidays are over, plant it in your yard or donate it to a local school. Another option is to purchase an artificial tree that can be used each year.

Give movie or concert tickets, gift certificates or make a donation to a local charity in someone's name.

Be creative when wrapping gifts. Look around the house for unusual wrapping materials. Old baskets, children's artwork and scrap fabric work well and can be reused on other occasions. Consider hiding children's presents around the house and leaving clues rather than wrapping the gifts.

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Buy rechargeable batteries for children's toys and home electronics. Forty percent of annual battery sales occur during the holiday period. Consider giving batteries and a recharger as part of the gift.

Be a smart shopper. To reduce trips to the store, begin your shopping on the phone or Internet, then organize shopping trips so that driving time is reduced. Bring your own shopping bag or use one large bag for all purchases.

When sending gifts by mail, package them with reused boxes, bubble wrap or peanuts. Wrap boxes in brown paper grocery bags for mailing.

Use dishes and glassware for parties rather than buying disposable paper goods. If your party is larger than your dish and glassware supply, try renting these items.

Cut the cards. Review and trim your holiday card list. Consider those on your list who might prefer an electronic card instead. Save the cards you receive and use them as gift tags, decorations and wrapping material.

Consider giving homemade baked goods or crafts as gifts. Get the kids involved in making holiday cards, decorations and ornaments instead of buying them.

Remember what the holidays are really about. In the midst of all the pressure to buy the right gifts, get things mailed on time and prepare your house for guests, don't forget that giving and getting are the least important parts of the season.

Kerry Case, Utah House Director, Utah State University Extension