In all the chaos, confusion, emotions and general excitement of the holidays, participants rarely consider that a successful holiday season comes with a lot of extra waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s compared to any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to a whopping one million extra tons.
“This holiday season we ask community members to make a commitment to go green using our 12 easy tips,” shared Eloisa Orozco, spokesperson for Waste Management of Southern California. “With a little thought and creativity we can all save money and time while reducing our impact on the environment this year.”
1. DIY Decorations
Invite family and friends over for a DIY day of creating holiday ornaments and other decorations from items around the house. Make your own ornaments out of old greeting cards, create garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, make wreaths from artificial greens and flowers and potpourri from kitchen spices like cinnamon and cloves.
2. Buy Green
Buy items that are made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products.
3. Wrap Green
Get creative with wrapping materials by using scarves, handkerchiefs, old maps, newspapers, children’s artwork, repurposed gift bags and reusable containers like cookie tins or baskets. Replace ribbons and bows with natural evergreens, berries, dried flowers and keep them as decorations or compost after the gifts are unwrapped.
4. Send Green Cards
Send eCards or recycled-content cards. Consider making cards by hand and recycling the cards you receive from family and friends.
5. Gift Green
Give potted plants, flowers or trees that your recipient can plant in their garden or yard. It’s a gift that benefits the environment and can remind the recipient of the holidays throughout the year.
6. Gift an Experience
Music lessons, concert tickets, museum passes, zoo memberships or even personal favors like babysitting make great zero-waste gifts. Find out the recipient’s favorite charity and make a donation in his or her honor.
7. Travel Green
Spend quality time with friends by carpooling to holiday parties and activities or even riding your bicycles if the event is nearby. Consider taking public transportation to avoid traffic jams and the stress of driving through heightened holiday traffic.
8. Bring a Reusable Container
Package dishes for holiday dinners in reusable containers. If the dish is a gift, place it on a decorative holiday plate, in a washable kitchen container or wrap it in a holiday-themed towel.
9. Be a Green Host
Instead of using disposable materials like paper plates and plastic utensils, use washable utensils, plates, glasses, napkins and table linens. Send leftover food home with your guests or donate it to a local homeless shelter to avoid waste and support the community.
10. Love Your Lights
Set your holiday lights on a timer so they don’t waste energy late at night and during the daytime.
According to EPA, about 40 percent of all battery sales that occur during the holiday season end up in landfills. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away and can save money in the long run.
When the holidays are over, be sure to recycle your tree and wreath. Luckily Long Beach’s Environmental Services Bureau offers a free pick up as well as 12 free drop-off locations.