It’s holiday magic time! While the good cheer can be abundant, so can the waste. As you gear up for holiday cooking and gift giving, keep sustainability in mind by following these simple tips.
An impactful place to start is by reducing food waste. Ensure you won’t end up with duplicate dishes by coordinating with family to plan who will bring appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Encourage guests to bring a reusable container to take home leftovers. If you’re still left with excess food, consider freezing it for another day.
Having trouble thinking of what to gift the family member who has everything? Think outside of the box — literally! The gift of an experience is often more memorable than another kitchen gadget that will collect dust. Consider these ideas:
Memberships: Zoos, aquariums, museums, theme parks or national parks
Experiences: Concerts, movies, golfing, bowling, rock climbing or escape rooms
Classes: Cooking, painting, dancing, guitar, piano or sports
If you’ve found the perfect gift that does come in a box, there are still easy ways to go green. Before adding wrapping paper to the shopping list, take a look in your recycle bin. Using old newspapers or advertisement inserts as wrapping paper is a great way to give those items a second use and save trees. Top it off with ribbons and bows saved from last year.
When you can’t reduce or reuse, be sure to recycle right. Wrapping paper is recyclable except when it has 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.
As online shopping grows increasingly popular, so too does the amount of packaging waste. When your packages arrive, cardboard boxes that can’t be reused should be flattened and recycled. Be sure to close your recycle container lid to keep cardboard protected and dry from rain and snow.
Plastic foam, bags, bubble wrap, and other stretchy plastic films are not accepted in your curbside recycling program. If no local recycling options exist for these items, such as plastic bag recycling at grocery stores, these materials should go in the garbage.
When it’s time to retire a strand of holiday lights or an extension cord, these should go in the garbage, never in your curbside recycling cart. These “tanglers” wrap around recycling equipment, causing machinery at the local recycling center to shut down.
Once the holiday celebrations have come to a close, trees can be cut into 4-foot sections and placed in your yard waste cart for composting. Remember to first remove any decorations.
Finally, remember you can spread recycling cheer all year long by only recycling items accepted in your local program. Just download a recycling guide at the WM website, wmnorthwest.com.
Karissa Miller is WM’s recycling education and outreach manager. For tips on recycling and waste reduction, visit the WM website, wmnorthwest.com