Each year, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste in the U.S. increases by more than 25 percent. From added food waste to shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons, holiday trash pushes an additional 1 million tons of garbage per week to our landfills.
Here are five things we all can do to create less waste this holiday season.
1. Don't purchase gifts in plastic clamshells/oyster packaging. Not only is this plastic packaging likely headed to the landfill, the hard plastic shells are so difficult to open that they injure thousands of people per year. Avoid this "diabolical" packaging and seek out gifts that are unpackaged. Or give "experience" gifts instead.
2. Use natural materials to wrap gifts. Forgo traditional wrapping paper and plastic tape whenever possible and use newspaper, recycled paper, or even fabric to wrap gifts. Use twine or cloth ribbons to secure.
3. Ditch plastic decorations. Refuse "fake snow," which is often made from finely ground polystyrene. Polystyrene is a possible human carcinogen and environmental pollutant that appears to last forever. Choose reusable decor over disposable, and real garland over plastic.
4. Eat, drink, and be merry without single-use plastic. Those red and green plastic plates may look festive, but they will last long after the holiday season has ended. Use real cups, dishes, and cutlery at your holiday parties. If buying coffee, tea, or hot chocolate on-the-go, bring your own cup.
5. Do less. Buy fewer presents and holiday "stuff" and you will reduce your plastic footprint on the earth. With less stuff overall you might find even more enjoyment in the season.
Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family as a time to be together, to cook and share stories, and to create memories. Happy Holidays!