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10 Tips for Reducing Waste During the Holidays

christmas trashFrom the extra energy expended to keep the Christmas lights on to stacks of Christmas cards, the holidays inevitable generate a lot of waste. It is estimated that, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, an additional 1 million tons of waste fill our landfills each week.  However, being mindful that our Earth is one of the greatest gifts doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fun or the holiday spirit. This Christmas, try to keep these 10 simple waste reduction tips in mind as you are wrapping presents and trimming the tree.

1. Use less ribbon or no ribbon at all when wrapping presents. If every household in the US alone used 2 ft. less ribbon this year, we could save approximately 43,470 miles of ribbon waste – more than enough to tie a bow around Earth’s 24,901 mile circumference.

2. Use wrapping paper that is recyclable, or made of recycled products, or think of innovative ways to wrap presents. For example, you can purchase wrapping paper that is made from hemp. You can use also fabric or cloth bags to wrap presents.


3. Recycle your live Christmas tree. Or better yet, purchase a potted tree and plant it after the holidays. Here is a link for various contacts in the metro area for recycling your tree after the holidays. You can also purchase an artificial tree and reuse it year after year.

4. Make sure you are using LED Christmas lights. Try to limit the time the lights are actually are at night by putting them on timers.

5. Send a few less Christmas Cards – or better yet, make them an e card. According to Hallmark, approximately 1.5 billion cards are sent out each year.  That’s enough to fill a football field 5 stories high. Here are some great, free, online e card resources: 123Greetings, Care2, and American Greetings. If you do send Christmas cards, use paper made of recycled material. Here are a few interesting resources for recyclable paper: Boomin, Botanical Paperworks, and Greenfield Paper. These companies produces paper with flower, herb, and vegetable seeds. Once used, it can be planted to grow! Make sure you recycle the cards you do receive or reuse them for a craft project.

6. Buy recharable batteries with your gifts. Even consider purchasing a battery charger with your gift. Approximately 40 percent of all battery sales happen during the holidays.

7. Don’t throw away leftover food and compost scraps if you can. If you can’t compost, check out this website to see if you can actually use your food scraps in a recipe.

8. Recycle, recyle, recycle.

9. Be creative in your gift giving and avoid potential waste. For example, consider giving the gift of an experience or event – a concert or lessons for a new hobby. Consider giving a charitable donation in someone’s name.

10.Donate Christmas gifts you received that you don’t want – don’t just throw them away.

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by kugelfish, some edits by Green Oklahoma

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Amanda Marcott-Thottunkal is a freelance writer in Norman. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Amanda is concerned about environmental policies and the effects legislation has on creating a cleaner, greener Oklahoma. She is constantly searching out ways to make her life more eco-friendly and wants to share green living tips with others. She lives with her husband and two cats.
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