Reducing Holiday Waste: Strategies to Generate Less Trash

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‘Tis the Season…for Trash? Rethinking Holiday Waste

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Photo: ‘Tis the Season..for Trash? Rethinking Holiday Waste

The holiday season brings a wealth of joy, from cherished family gatherings to the laughter of friends and the delight of children opening their gifts.

However, once the festivities are over, what often follows is a less festive sight: overflowing trash bins brimming with crumpled wrapping paper, discarded boxes, uneaten food, and post-holiday refuse waiting for the garbage truck’s arrival. It’s easy to think that once your waste is taken away, it disappears from your consciousness.

In reality, these discarded items persist, taking months, decades, or even up to 1,000 years to decompose, especially non-recycled plastics, as they find their final resting place in landfills, which could be local or on the other side of the world. Moreover, beyond the curb, your waste continues to contribute to climate change through the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

Indeed, the United States is a significant producer of waste, ranking third worldwide for waste per capita, as per the World Bank.

During the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans dispose of a staggering 25 percent more garbage, as reported by Stanford University. The fate of this holiday waste is a topic of ongoing debate and concern, particularly as recycling programs face challenges in the global materials market, and the secondhand industry struggles to absorb the nation’s donations and discarded goods.

So, what can be done? The holiday season is synonymous with giving, and it’s an opportunity to give back to the Earth and its inhabitants.

By making thoughtful choices, both large and small, you can reduce your holiday waste, create lasting memories, and save money simultaneously. Explore the following tips and suggestions to make a positive impact during this festive time.

Find a New Home for Leftovers and Reduce Food Waste

If you’re familiar with the post-holiday conundrum of having prepared an abundance of food, far more than your family can consume before it starts to lose its freshness, you’re not alone.

Many households have faced the dilemma of discarding perfectly good leftovers after a big holiday feast. Shockingly, this issue is not isolated, as it reflects the broader trend in the United States, where a staggering 40 percent of food ends up in the trash. This not only squanders money and the efforts put into cooking but also places an immense burden on landfills, with certain items taking up to 25 years to decompose.

Rather than consigning uneaten holiday meals to the trash, consider a more sustainable approach.

Keep on hand only the portion your family can consume within the next two days, and pack the remaining leftovers into reusable food storage containers. Better yet, share the bounty with your guests, allowing them to choose their preferred dishes, sparing Aunt Sally from being burdened with a Brussels sprout salad she has no intention of eating.

By finding a New Home for your leftovers, you can significantly reduce food waste, save money, and contribute to a healthier environment.

Harness the Power of Social Media for Holiday Greetings

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Photo: Harness the Power of Social Media for Holiday Greetings

In bygone eras, holiday seasons saw mailboxes filled to the brim with heartwarming greeting cards, a charming tradition that unfortunately generated a significant amount of waste.

Even today, Americans collectively purchase a staggering 1. 6 billion holiday cards each year, leading to heaps of discarded paper once their moment in the spotlight atop the fireplace mantel has passed.

To mitigate this paper waste, consider modernizing your holiday greetings.

Share your annual holiday letter on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, or send customized well-wishes directly to your contacts’ inboxes using e-greeting services such as Smilebox or Paperless Post. If you receive holiday cards via traditional mail from friends and family, make the environmentally-conscious choice to recycle the paper envelope and card once you’ve cherished the holiday sentiment.

While recycling isn’t a perfect solution and it’s always preferable to generate zero waste, there are situations where items enter our lives without our control. In such cases, the recycling bin can indeed be your ally in reducing waste and minimizing your ecological footprint.

Upgrade Your Dining Experience and Reduce Waste: Ditch Disposable Tablecloths

Elevate your Dining Table with a touch of luxury by saying goodbye to disposable paper or plastic tablecloths and making the switch to a reusable cloth alternative.

Not only will this upgrade add sophistication to your meals, but it will also significantly reduce unnecessary waste.

If you’re concerned about the cloth tablecloth becoming a magnet for stains, consider investing in one with spill-resistant technology, such as the offering from LUCKYHOUSEHOME.

With this innovation, any spills will bead up on the cloth’s surface, affording you ample time to promptly wipe them away and keep your gathering on track. Should any stubborn stains persist, you can often remedy them with the timely application of carbonated water or a straightforward spot treatment after the meal, ensuring that your cloth tablecloth remains a durable and sustainable addition to your dining experience.

Elevate Guest Hospitality and Reduce Paper Waste: Provide Hand Towels

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Photo: Elevate Guest Hospitality and Reduce Paper Waste: Provide Hand Towels

Hosting a house full of guests doesn’t mean you have to resort to using disposable paper towels in the bathroom.

Instead, offer a more sustainable and elegant solution by hanging a pair of neutral hand towels for guests to dry their clean hands. Alternatively, create a convenient setup by placing additional hand towels in a basket or bin in the bathroom, allowing guests to help themselves.

If you’re in need of guest-ready hand towels, you can easily find affordable sets at discount department stores or IKEA.

For those who love hunting for bargains, consider checking out local charity shops where you might stumble upon new or like-new linens. Unlike a roll of paper towels, investing in hand towels is a purchase that will continue to serve you and your guests for years to come, while also reducing paper waste and contributing to a more sustainable home environment.

*The information is for reference only.