Waste Management Offers Ideas for Reducing Waste During the Holidays

Creativity Can Save Energy, Improve Environment
The traditional song calls for people to dream of a white Christmas, but for the conscientious consumer, it can also be a green holiday season. No matter what holiday you celebrate, you can take steps to reduce the annual increase in waste created between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
“If each of us took a few small steps to reduce the waste we produce or increase the amount of materials we recycle during the holidays, we’d save a large amount of materials, energy and landfill space,” said Robin Freedman of Waste Management of Kirkland, Washington. “There is no shortage of ways to cut back on waste during the holidays.”
Composting can reduce the amount of organic waste produced in the home. Holiday meal preparation can generate a large amount of potato peels, fruit rinds, coffee grinds, other vegetable waste and eggshells, that can all be composted. A new compost bin filled with homemade treats can make a great gift for those looking to take recycling to the next level.
If you have a fresh tree, garland or wreaths, be sure to recycle them when the holidays are over. Check the King County Tree-Cycling website about tree collection and recycling opportunities.
If getting your holiday decorations out of storage makes you ask yourself where you’ll find space to put them away in January, maybe it is time to clean out the attic or basement. Before you throw things away, consider whether an item still has a service life and is acceptable for donation to an organization such as the local Value Village or Goodwill Services.
Here are other ways to make your holiday season greener:
  • Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don't need a bag for small or oversized purchases.
  • When packaging gifts, consider reduced or no-waste wrapping options.  Put a reusable bow on the gift; place the gift in a reusable bag such as a backpack or purse; or package small, themed gifts in a larger item – such as plates or tableware in placemats or a tablecloth or kitchen utensils in an apron or decorative dishtowel. Also, you can use last year’s wrapping as packaging material.
  • Make your own wrapping paper by using old maps, posters or pages from the newspaper or magazines. Recycled-content wrapping paper is also available.  Save bags and bows to use again and be sure to recycle the newspapers or brown paper shopping bags after the gift is opened, or use it for padding when shipping gifts.
  • Consider giving no-waste gifts, such as music or sports lessons, memberships to a gym, the philharmonic or a museum, favors like babysitting or tickets to a sporting event or concert.  Find out the gift recipient’s favorite charity and make a donation in his or her honor, or commit to volunteering with that organization.
With a little imagination and commitment, we can use this holiday season to create new traditions that help preserve the environment. For more information about Waste Management’s comprehensive list of recycling services, visitwww.thinkgreenfromhome.com.