Tip: Wrap presents with reusable materials like newspaper or last year’s gift bags and bows. (Getty Images)

Tip: Wrap presents with reusable materials like newspaper or last year’s gift bags and bows. (Getty Images)

Don’t be a Grinch — go green by reducing waste this holiday

There are a few things you can do to reduce waste from gifts, potlucks and decorations this season.

December is flush with potlucks, parties and social gatherings of every imaginable sort. While the gift-giving and good cheer can be contagious, so can the waste. Did you know that during the holidays, Americans throw away 25% more trash and waste 33% more food?

But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Grinch to be green during the holidays. There are a few things you can do to reduce waste from gifts, potlucks and decorations this season.

When it comes to gifts, there are many ways to rethink and reduce. Try gifting experiences, rather than things, to avoid waste. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new with your loved ones — wine tasting, a new restaurant, a sporting event or pottery class. The options are endless.

Whatever your gift, our No. 1 waste reduction tip is to wrap presents with reusable materials like newspaper or last year’s gift bags and bows. When you can’t reduce or reuse, make sure you Recycle Right. Almost all wrapping paper can be recycled. The exception is paper with a plastic coating or metallic finish. Bows and ribbons cannot be recycled, so save them for next year. If they’re not in reusable condition, toss them in the garbage.

Another way to go green during the holidays is to avoid food waste. Holiday feasts can lead to extra food, so ask dinner guests to bring a reusable container to take home leftovers. Freezing leftovers is also a great option. For food scraps that can’t be salvaged, make sure to put them in the food/yard waste cart so they can be composted.

Finally, remember to be environmentally conscious when it comes to holiday lights and decorations. As always, the first step is to reduce and reuse as much as possible. Get creative with a homemade wreath or ornaments. Buy energy-efficient LED light strands wired in parallel, so if one burns out, the others will still work, and you can avoid throwing away the whole strand.

Once it’s time to retire a strand of lights, dispose of them properly, which is to say, not in your recycling cart (this is important and worth repeating: Holiday lights cannot be recycled in your curbside cart!). Light strands cause problems at recycling centers because they tangle around recycling equipment and create hazards for workers.

However, some facilities offer holiday light recycling. To find a list of locations near you, an internet search for “holiday light recycling near me” will bring up options in Puget Sound.

Here’s to a green holiday season filled with fun and good cheer!

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. Learn more about waste reduction at RecycleOftenRecycleRight.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Toni Munizza, a PE teacher, founded the Cathcart Elementary Unicycle club in 1991. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How a teacher created a lasting unicycle legacy in Cathcart

Around 1993, Toni Munizza the Cathcart Unicycle Club was formed. Some 28 years later, it’s still going strong.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime in XSE trim with two-tone black and Supersonic Red paint. (Manufacturer photo)
Toyota expands RAV4 family with new 2021 Prime plug-in hybrid

The most powerful RAV4 also has the highest electric-only range of any PHEV SUV on the market.

Smart watches, like this Samsung Galaxy Watch3, have valuable safety features that can help you as you age. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Embracing new technology that gives security and independence

It’s important to adapt to wearing a smart watch, for example, while your brain is healthy enough to figure it out.

Pho
You voted: The best pho in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites

You’re not lazy: The psychology behind procrastination

Psychologists say we procrastinate to avoid unpleasant emotions associated with a task, not the work itself.

Andalucía celebrates life with soul and with passion.
Rick Steves on Andalusians’ twin passions: religion and partying

After dining on the exquisite local cuisine, head outdoors for an all-night revel on the streets.

Is traveler’s annual insurance policy refundable?

After the pandemic hits, Durndord King can’t use his annual travel insurance policy from Allianz.

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project is hosting a “Coastal River Otters” presentation on June 16 via Zoom. (Heide Island)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

The listings include Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest updates and REI Lynnwood workshops.

Book-related events in Snohomish County.
Author events and poetry readings around Snohomish County

The listings include Third Place Books, Everett Public Library and Neverending Bookshop events.

Most Read