Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Create a Waste Free Christmas

Facts About Holiday Waste

Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day American household waste increases by more than 25%.-when you add food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons - it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons of waste per week sent to our landfills. (Source EPA and Use Less Stuff)

Every year in the U.S. alone the annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons. (Use Less Stuff)

Are those statistics enough to make you consider a green waste free Christmas?

Decorate Green

The first thing you’ll want to do to create a waste free Christmas is decorate green with recyclable, reusable items. Skip the stuff that’s just going to be tossed in the trash and use heirloom ornaments and decorations that can be used year after year. If you do invest in new items make sure you buy quality products that will last for years to come.

There’s an ongoing debate about Christmas trees. An artificial tree can keep real trees from being cut down but artificial trees are not usually made of earth-friendly materials, but once you buy one it lasts for years- a good one that is taken care of can last decades. I know, I use my mom’s artificial tree that she purchased thirty years ago.

Experts are even sometimes divided on whether it is better to buy a fake tree or purchase a real one.

My opinion is this- if you already have a fake tree stick with it but if you need a tree opt for a live one.

The best choices for live trees are ones that are purchased from local tree farms (organic if possible). These trees are grown to be cut down and sold. The farm will replant trees almost every year to replace the ones cut down the year before. Purchasing from a local tree farm will also support your local community.

After Christmas is over have your tree mulched. Many communities are now providing tree-recycling services during the holidays. This saves all those trees from ended up in a landfill. About 30 million Christmas trees go to the landfill every year according to the Environmental News Network.

Wrap It Up

When shopping for gifts look for items with little to no packaging.

This means less waste for the landfill even less waste to recycle.

Once you have purchased your green gifts you are going to need to wrap them up in eco-style. According to The Recycler's Handbook half of all the paper America consumes in a year is used to wrap and decorate gifts. Imagine if every family could just cut their paper consumption in half for the holidays- so much paper and trees could be saved.

You can easily cut down on waste by making your own holiday cards, tags, ribbons bows, and gift wrap out of scrap materials, used items or recycled materials.

Get the kids involved. Children love craft projects.. Let kids stamp, paint, and decorate plain boxes, bags and paper and transform it into fun holiday wrappings. You can also make use of unique items you have around your home and transform them into fun holiday wrapping paper, such as the comic section of newspapers, colorful pages from magazines, old maps or paper you make yourself.

Another great way to cut down on gift wrap waste is by making the present part of the package by wrapping one gift with another gift.

Are you giving a blanket as a gift? Put a present inside the blanket- use the blanket as the wrapping. Tie it with a used ribbon, piece of twine or string and you are all set. You can roll up sweaters or other clothing items and stick smaller gifts like socks and underwear inside. Tie gifts up in waste free style using curtain tiebacks, shoelaces or hair ribbons. That way everything is part of the gift. Nothing gets thrown away.

If you are handy with a needle and thread you could even make your own waste free, reusable cloth gift bags. Use any fabric you have on hand to create gift bags. Fun holiday prints, old tablecloths, mismatched fabric napkins even old t-shirts or blue jeans would make fabulous reusable fabric gift bags

Recycle and Reuse

This holiday season skip all the disposable stuff that could end up in landfill.

After all the presents are unwrapped save your ribbons, bows, bags and boxes to use for other special occasions or for next year’s Christmas. I have a huge box I put gift bags, boxes, cards, tags and scraps of wrapping paper in to be used year after year. It goes in the cupboard will all of my other seasonal holiday decorations. The scraps are often used the following year to make homemade Christmas cards (a yearly family tradition).

If an item isn’t salvageable- recycle it. Make sure cardboard, paperboard and wrapping paper are all separated into their own piles because they often are sent to different locations for recycling. Be sure to recycle batteries, plastic container, wraps and bottles. Aluminum and glass can also be recycled.

To find local recycling locations near you visit

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