Did Santa leave his sack of toys? Nope, that’s just a giant bag of garbage full of ripped wrapping paper, wasted fruitcake and flattened bows waiting to add more pollution to the global warming problem.
The EPA estimates that household waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, when Americans throw out an additional one million tons of trash each week. Gift-wrap and shopping bags alone account for 4 million tons of garbage every year. Even when you recycle, the holidays still produce a mountain of refuse to discard, from cardboard gift boxes and excessive product packaging to dying trees and moldy leftovers. In other words, a recipe to fuel global warming.
Give joy to the world this season by reducing your holiday waste with a few easy ideas:
Food & Drink
1.Hosting a holiday party or feast? Know how much food to prepare. A 12-14 pound turkey or ham feeds up to 10 people, and each guest will usually eat ¼ pound each of side dishes like stuffing, potatoes or vegetables. One pie makes 8 servings of dessert.
2.For safety reasons, food banks usually don’t take leftovers – but your party guests will! Send treats home with your friends and family in a returnable dish.
3. Stop telling your friend how much you love her fudge or fruitcake if you never eat it – she’ll just bring it again next year. Instead, express your gratitude but say you’re cutting down on sweets.
4. Use inexpensive brown craft paper and embellish it with colorful décor like stamps, stickers or children’s drawings.
5. Save your wrapping paper and reuse it! While it may be difficult to stop kids from ripping into presents, every adult should be able to open their presents at the seams to save the paper.
6. Newspaper comics are a fun way to wrap.
7. Make the wrapping part of the present and use a tee shirt, bandanna, tablecloth or other reusable cloth.
8. Give a gift of experience that needs no wrapping: tickets to a show, coupons for a massage, stocks or charitable donations.
9. For kids, hide the gift and create a treasure hunt. No wrapping needed!
Ribbons & Bows
10. Be creative with your package décor and use pretty flowers, twigs, berries, leaves, pinecones, seashells or other outdoor trimmings.
11. Adorn your package with a pretty piece of candy, like a candy cane.
12. If you like the shiny look of traditional ribbons and bows, save them and use again year after year. Just pop a new piece of tape on the bottom, and these pretty gift ornaments will last for a decade.
13. Reduce your thermostat and put on a sweater and wool socks.
14. Make sure you are using LED lights on the inside and outside of your house, and use smaller bulbs to save on energy.
15. Set your lights on a timer so that they don’t burn all night.
16. While live trees smell nice, using a tree once and then trashing it isn’t kind to the environment. Instead, buy a potted tree and use it year after year.
17. You can also choose a tree in your yard to decorate each year and skip the indoor tree.
18. Invest in a beautiful artificial tree that you will use for the rest of your life.
19. Bring your own bags, just like you do at the grocery store.
20. Buy rechargeable batteries to go with electronic presents.
21. Skip the holiday cards. Instead, send an e-greeting or make a phone call to your friend.
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