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Plan Ahead to Recycle Right this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a great time to get together with friends, family and the community. It is also one of the biggest producers of excess waste. According to a study by the website Use Less Stuff, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day 2018, the amount of trash generated in the U.S. increased by 25% over the previous ten months!

This excess waste comes from online shopping, left over wrapping paper, unwanted gifts and even cooking too much food. This doesn’t mean that you need to cut out the holidays completely, it just means taking a little time to plan ahead. From planning your holiday meal to finding the perfect gift, use these tips to make your holiday season more environmentally-friendly.

Food & Entertaining: Many of us look forward to eating our favorite home-cooked food during the holidays. However, food waste is a big factor in the amount of waste created. An easy way to offset food waste for the holidays is to plan, plan, plan. Write out your menus and then make a shopping list reflecting only what you need. While grocery shopping for your meal, fight the urge to buy more than necessary. It’s common for people to buy more than the recipe calls for to be “on the safe side.”

The Leftover Debate: Do you want leftovers or not? Are you firmly in the no leftovers camp? If you only buy what you need, you won’t have any left-over ingredients that could later end up in your trash. If you aren’t sure how much to make, there are helpful, free, online tools you can use. Save The Food’s online calculator the Guest-imator can help you figure out the right amount of food to make for the number of guests you’re having, so you can prevent food waste. It’s as simple as plugging in the number of people, indicating whether or not you want leftovers, and the type of meal you will make.

If you love leftovers, think ahead as to which meals can be repurposed. For example, turkey is great for cold turkey sandwiches or tuned into enchiladas or turkey tetrazzini. The Internet is packed with recipes to consider. Also, think about picking up eco-friendly food containers and sending home the extras with your guests. Singles and families alike usually appreciate the extra meal.

Decorating: Everyone loves a festive home during the holidays. Buy decorations that are meant to last instead of trendy or disposable decorations. The same is true when it comes to place settings and serving platters. While it may be more of a hassle to use plates and silverware with cloth napkins, paper plates and napkins can’t be recycled.

Shopping & Wrapping: Be a savvy shopper. Buying gifts can be tricky if you are not sure what someone wants, so don’t be afraid to ask for ideas. Give the gift of sustainability with DIY gifts, reusable totes, straws or cups. Many people love receiving homemade food gifts of jam, pickles, etc.

Also, be creative with the way you wrap your gifts. If you shop online, reuse the boxes that come in as gift boxes. Brown packing paper is great for gift wrap. Tissue paper is a common item to just throw away without thought. Instead, keep it for the next gift exchange. There are so many creative and unique ways to wrap gifts. Take stock of the items you have at home or even in your recycling bin to see what could be converted into a gift box. Again, the Internet is filled with creative ideas that won’t cost you a dime.

To preserve the spirit of giving, don’t try to give too much. Less stuff means less waste and a healthier environment for everyone. The bottom line to all of this is that you want to feel good about the holiday season. You’ll feel even better knowing you recycled right!

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