Reducing the Impact of the Holidays

For many, the holiday season is time to relax and kick back. But for folks in the solid waste industry, the holiday season is the busy season. With all the gifts, meals, and gatherings with friends and family, it is no surprise that we create more waste during the holidays.

But how much more waste are we talking about? It is estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that people throw away 25 percent more garbage than normal. That amounts to an additional 7 million pounds of trash in the U.S. over the holidays!

While we throw out more trash this time of year, we also have a lot of opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep valuable materials out of landfills and protect the environment. So what can you do to limit your impact?

Holiday fare: Folks often end up cooking a lot more during the holidays, so what can you do to send less food to the landfill?
– Wrap it up! The U.S.D.A recommends that food be properly stored within two hours of cooking to keep it from going bad.
– Give it away! If you know folks who love leftovers but aren’t big on cooking, share with them. You can also donate non-perishable foods that have not been opened.
– Bring it to a WLSSD Food Drop-Off Site for composting! If all else fails, put those food scraps into one of our drop bins to make sure those nutrients make it back into the soil. You can find details on our web site.

Holiday packaging: From the packaging gifts were shipped and sold in to the wrappings used to decorate gifts, a ton of packaging material is thrown away.
– Save and re-use old wrapping paper to make it last longer, or use newspapers to wrap gifts, then recycle the newspapers.
– Recycle corrugated cardboard and plastics that gifts are sold and shipped in.

Holiday gifts: New gifts are exciting, but years from now, it may be garbage in a landfill – unless you get creative.
– Buy gently used products as gifts, or repair something that you already have rather than buying something new that eventually will be thrown away.
– Be creative and give gifts that don’t create waste – offer to clean up a parent’s basement, babysit for a sibling, or shovel for a neighbor.

Holiday decorations: Lights, trees, wreaths, life-size figurines, and all other sorts of holiday decorations get thrown away every year, so make sure they get thrown away in the right place.
– WLSSD’s Yard Waste Site will re-open for special hours to allow folks to drop off trees, wreaths, or other holiday organics. Be sure to remove wires, other types of metal and anything not natural before bringing it in. (See link to Treecycling for more information.)
– WLSSD’s Materials Recovery Center will accept electronics like lights or other decorations to make sure it gets recycled properly.
– WLSSD’s Household Hazardous Waste facility will accept hazardous waste like cleaning products that may have piled up over the holidays.

These are just a few suggestions to cut down on waste during the Holiday’s, and every little bit helps. WLSSD is here to support your waste reduction efforts to keep our community and our environment safe and thriving.

-Sam Lobby, Environmental Programs Coordinator


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