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Great tips for a green holiday

Did you know on average, Americans produce 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (Environmental Protection Agency)? That’s about 1 million extra tons of trash in our landfills/oceans generated in less than six weeks (EPA). That’s a staggering number but not hard to wrap our heads around when we think about all the greeting cards, wrapping paper, holiday parties, packaging, gifts and old models tossed after new models are gifted. There are numerous ways we can look at our holiday parties, traditions, expenses to reduce our waste so we can better protect our planet and its inhabitants.

When hosting holiday parties and dinners, opt for reusable utensils, dishes and glasses. Plastic utensils and cups are often used for a very short amount of time but take over 1,000 years to break down in our environment.

See our blog from August 30, “Plastic: Breaking it down,” for more information. If you must use plastic, place a recycling bin next your waste bin to make it easier for your guests to recycle. Don’t forget about the food! Discourage food waste by sending your guests home with doggie bags of leftovers.

When it comes time to wrap gifts for your family and friends, choose to reuse. Reuse old cards/stationery for gift tags, old gift bags, paper, and boxes/bags you have in your home to wrap your presents, and tie them with fabric string or twine rather than plastic string. When buying wrapping paper, choose paper that is recycled and avoid items with glitter. Glitter is actually tiny bits of shiny plastic called microplastics. Microplastics are well-known environmental hazards for the world’s oceans and for us! Don’t recycle wrapping paper unless it is specifically marked as being recyclable. A lot of wrapping paper has metallic dye in it, which at worst is toxic and at the least would contaminate a load of recyclable paper.

Buy locally when you can. Buying local helps decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, reduces air pollution, and cuts back on greenhouse gas emissions. For long-distance friends and family, see if you can order items such as food baskets in their local area.

Last but not least, recycle, recycle, recycle! You can recycle your holiday tree at your local dropoff spot. Recycle your packaging from online orders. Some locations will even accept your used batteries and lights for recycling.

We hope you have a very merry and green holiday!
Carissa Bishop
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor

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