Holiday Waste and How to Reduce It

The holiday season is one of the busiest of the year for American businesses, and the waste industry sees just as much action throughout November and December as the rest of the country. From stuffing boxes and disposable roasting pans at Thanksgiving, to acres of used toys and old cardboard boxes at Christmas, to mountains of New Year’s Day confetti, our holiday garbage generation accounts for about 15% of our yearly trash production.

The critical time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day sees more than 1 million tons of extra waste every week. With an average yearly production of about 167 million tons of non-recyclable waste, we can attribute roughly 25 million of that solely to holiday waste. Instead of contributing to this massive problem this year, try out some of these tips to reduce waste and make your holiday a greener one.

1. We Send 2.6 Billion Holiday Cards Every Year

It is estimated that 2.6 billion holiday cards make their way through the US postal system every year – that makes a hundred foot high pile of cards when dumped over the Super Bowl stadium.

Why not try sending e-cards this year? They’re easy, convenient, Earth-friendly, and free.

2. Half of Our Yearly Paper Waste Happens at the Holidays

Wrapping paper, tissue paper, plastic bags, and other wrapping materials account for half of all paper waste in the US. A large portion of the pretty wrapping paper you buy every Christmas cannot be recycled, and enough ribbon is thrown out to tie a bow around our planet.

Use recyclable paper for wrapping, or give gifts in bags that can be reused.

3. We Waste Several Billion Pounds of Food Each Year

In fact, we waste more food than many poorer countries use, and a significant portion of this waste occurs during the holiday season.

Try keeping your holiday meals simpler, composting leftovers, or even donating leftovers to a homeless shelter or a local farm if possible.

4. We Throw Out 65 lbs. of E-Waste Per Person Each Year

Paper and food aren’t the only holiday waste problems that we face. Electronic waste is rampant during this season, as trendy teens toss out their electronic devices by the truckload and replace them with the latest models. It is estimated that every person in the US throws out 65 pounds of electronics each year, and the majority of that e-waste occurs during the holiday season. Most devices, however, from smartphones to computers to gaming systems, can easily be recycled.

Before throwing out your old device, consider recycling or donating it!

5. We Toss Millions of Christmas Trees in Landfills

Christmas trees are one more source of waste that could be put to better use. More than 50 million Christmas trees are sold each year, but only a small percentage of them are reused for other purposes…the rest are just thrown away. Your old Christmas trees can be composted to improve soil quality, turned into Earth-friendly mulch, or even donated to a local building project.

Opt for a potted Christmas tree that can be brought inside and re-decorated year after year.

However you plan to celebrate the holidays this year, putting a special focus on waste reduction can help everyone enjoy a merrier season.