The Waste Word Blog

  • How Not to Be an Environmental Ebenezer This Holiday Season
    December 11, 2015

    By Sara Verrillo

    Americans produce approximately 25 percent more household waste during the holidays than the rest of the year, and that number does not include food. This, combined with knowing the environmental consequences that come with mass consumerism, increased travel, and food waste, may make any environmentalist want to shrug off celebrating the holidays all together.


    Before you say “bah humbug,” we suggest you meet our friends, the Ghosts of Waste Present, Past and Future.

    The Ghost of Waste Present

    The Ghost of Waste Present teaches the important lesson that it’s possible to celebrate the season in the present while not neglecting the environment by REDUCING.

    Get creative with your gift-giving. We environmentalists hate waste and excess, so we can be apprehensive about purchasing additional items that aren’t really necessary. Instead of giving items, consider gifting experiences that can add value to your loved ones’ lives like a museum membership or local food (CSA) subscription.

    Share reusable bags with family and friends. If you’re a dedicated greenie, it’s likely that you’re already bringing your own bag to the store. Try sharing that message with family and friends by purchasing or creating a bag for them so they can also help to reduce plastic waste.

    Eat without excess. By planning ahead and sticking to a grocery list, we can still celebrate the flavors of the season without contributing to the growing food waste problem. Try preparing the holiday meal together with family, which will make the time put into making the meal just as valuable as eating it. And if there’s a little leftover, don’t fret too much -- when food is that yummy, it won’t go to waste the next day!

    Send an e-card instead. You may not want to waste paper by sending an invite or greeting through the mail, but you can still send holiday greetings with an e-card, video or photo slideshow that’s sent via email.

    Help clean the dishes. It’s not so inconvenient to use regular dishes when there’s help cleaning! Get the family together to clear the table, wash and dry dishes or load the dishwasher. This may prevent the purchase of throwaway dishes, cups and utensils.


    The Ghost of Waste Past

    The Ghost of Waste Past sends a reminder that waste saved from our past can be REUSED to create holiday cheer.

    Save and reuse ribbons, bows and bags. These items can be continually reused from year to year. Keep or swap them with loved ones to package holiday gifts.

    Make decorations from used bottles, papers or cans. Check out the amazing decorations we found on Pinterest made from waste. We promise they don’t look like they came from the recycling bin.

    Turn old clothes into gloves, scarves or hand warmers.Reuse shrunken sweaters or worn out clothing by turning them into a warm pair of mittens. Click here for some ideas.

    Project via Pinterest

    The Ghost of Waste Future

    Despite how hard we try, sometimes there is no way to avoid purchasing new items or creating waste in the world we live in today. The Ghost of Waste Future reminds us that we can still protect the future by RECYCLING many of these items.

    Remember to recycle these holiday items in your curbside bin:

    • Greeting Cards (without glitter)
    • Cardboard Packaging
    • Newspaper, Magazines, Advertisements
    • Plastic Soda Bottles
    • Glass Wine Bottles, Beer Bottles
    • Soda Cans, Beer Cans, Food Cans (rinsed out)

    The following items cannot be recycled in your recycling bin at home, but they can be recycled through other outlets: 

    • Plastic shopping bags – most local grocery chains as well as Target, Walmart or Kohl’s stores accept plastic bags for recycling.
    • Plastic film – can be recycled at local stores with plastic bags.
    • Bubble wrap or packing peanuts – some UPS or other shipping stores accept these for reuse.
    • Batteries – alkaline batteries can be trashed but rechargeable batteries should be brought to our household hazardous waste day.
    • Electronics – TVs, iPods, cellphones, etc. cannot be put in the trash. Check with your town or visit for other local collection sites.

    Don't see your item listed above? Try searching our waste wizard for disposal information. 

    Enjoy Your Holiday!

    We hope you found these tips helpful and wish you a joyous and green holiday season. 

    Bookmark and Share
Search Our Directory

© ACUA 2022 All Rights Reserved.