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Green holiday how-to

Did you know on average, Americans produce 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? That’s about 1 million extra tons of trash in our landfills and oceans generated in less than just six weeks. While that seems like an embellished statistic, it’s 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 and expenses to reduce our waste so we can better protect our planet and its inhabitants.

When it comes to wrapping gifts for your family and friends, choose to reuse! Wrap gifts with bags and cookie tins from previous years. Use old cards and stationery for gift tags. If you need to buy wrapping paper, make sure to purchase paper that can be recycled. The rule of thumb here is to avoid wrapping paper that contains other items that aren’t paper. Glitter wrapping paper is an obvious example, but did you know that a lot of wrapping paper has metallic dye in it? Once discarded in the landfill, this paper can lead to toxic chemicals entering the ground and even our water systems. Speaking of plastic, use fabric and twine rather than plastic or nylon string to keep plastic use at bay over the holidays.

Hosting an event or party this holiday season? Choose to reuse! Put out reusable utensils, dishes and glasses. We know it’s a little more work to clean those items, but think about how little time we’re using those plastic forks and cups, compared with the thousands of years it takes for them to break down. If plastic is used, place a recycling bin next your waste bin to make is 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.

Last but not least, recycle, recycle, recycle! You can recycle your holiday tree at your local dropoff spot. Recycle your packaging from online orders. You can even recycle your old batteries/lights at your local Home Depot.

We hope you have a very happy and GREEN holiday!
Carissa Bishop
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor

(Photo by Shauna)

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