3 Tips To Reduce, Reuse, Recycle This Holiday Season

by Mistie Dawn

The holiday season is in full swing! And here comes the holiday packages filled with goodies from friends and family. Did you know that Americans generate 25% more waste (that's 6 million tons, up 20% since 1995) between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day? Here are a few suggestions on ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle this holiday season.

1. Styrofoam peanuts.  They're every where this time of year and even if you don't use them someone you know does. I have always tried to reuse the Styrofoam peanuts that I receive in shipments but they seem to multiple by the hundreds and I would NEVER dream of throwing them away (Styrofoam is not biodegradable and will sit in landfills for centuries). Try as hard as I could but I could keep up. Next thing I knew I had compiled two giant garbage bags full of these things. I decided to visit my neighborhood Mom & Pop shipping store to see if they would be interested in taking them. "Of course!", was their response. Phew! After the holidays I suggest you bag up all the peanuts you've collected and take them to your neighborhood shipping company. They always need more. Though I would prefer for people to stop using Styrofoam altogether I would much rather we reuse what is already in circulation than add them to the landfill.

Learn more about Styrofoam's Environmental Impact

2. Wrapping Paper/ Gift Bags. Another holiday favorite that piles up at Christmas time, wrapping paper and gift bags. I for one always save every gift bag that I receive and I have a special storage area where I fold them up and save them. What do I save them for? Well for the next gift giving occasion. Have you seen how much gift bags cost these days! It is especially perfect for when you have that last minute gift giving occasion. I just pick something out of my nifty stash and I'm good to go. The bonus is that my bags usually already have matching tissue paper!

Check out Kenneth Brown Design's website for more ideas on how to reuse wrapping paper

As for wrapping paper, I am a big fan of decoupaging. I know a lot of people who spend a great deal of money at the local craft store buying specialty decorative papers. Why not reuse wrapping paper for your next project?

3. Holiday Cards. This is a trick I learned from my grandmother. She never threw away holiday cards. She would collect them after the holidays and cut out the beautiful pictures and messages. Then she would remake them into new cards for the next round of holidays by pasting the pictures/ messages onto card sized card stock paper. She would mix and match pictures and be really creative with it.

Check out Chica & Jo's website for more ideas on how to recycle cards

Holiday Day Cards Upcycled as Gift Tags

I also think holiday cards are another great resource for decoupage projects. Here are a few decoupage projects ideas from Martha herself.

Bonus tip!:  

Biodegradable Dinnerware. As we mentioned in one of our previous blog discussions,
some of the biggest waste generated during the holidays is from disposable dinnerware. Much of it made from plastic, Styrofoam, or chemically treated paper products which are not biodegradable. Make sure you are looking for and buying biodegradable products. There is a lot to choose from these days. From plates made from fallen palm leaves, to corn starch "plastics", recycled paper products, and bamboo.

Let's get that holiday waste number to come down not up! Save money and have fun while doing it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!