Want to Reduce Your Holiday Waste

— Written By Dee Smith
en Español / em Português

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Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

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As you plan for the holidays in the coming weeks, think about ways that you can reduce your environmental footprint. There are so many ways you can reduce or reuse during the holidays. These small changes can make a big difference in the amount and types of trash your household produces.

While shopping, always bring your reusable bags to put your items in, both at the grocery stores and while shopping for gifts. I challenge you to avoid plastic produce bags. Think of clever ways to do without, such as bringing your own reusable cloth bag or just go without. Also while shopping at grocery stores, look for ways to reduce your plastic purchasing. Choose brands with zero or minimal plastic packaging over other brands. There is no good reason to buy individually  wrapped fruits and vegetables, the plastic wrap isn’t healthy and it creates more waste.

When thinking of parties, skip the informal single use plates and cutlery and opt for

Dinner place setting

Use glass dinnerware and silverware instead of single use plasticware

silverware and glass or china dinnerware. If you are feeding a larger party and reusable dinnerware isn’t feasible, try for the sturdy paper plates instead of plastic. Look for alternatives for plastic cutlery as well. There are often bamboo or wooden options. Be leery of the “compostable” products, as they must be processed in a special facility. They’re helpful because they are made from plant materials instead of plastic, but if not processed correctly then they will not break down either. Keep in mind, paper and metal straws are a better alternative to the traditional plastic straw. Straws are one of the most commonly littered items, not only in the US but also across the world.

Wrapped presents

Reuse old newspaper, magazines or paper bags to wrapped gifts.

When gift buying this season, buy gifts locally instead of online. This not only cuts down on packaging, but it helps the local economy. Think of non-traditional gifts such as experiences, meals or cookies or even trips to do as a family instead. Think of clever ways to reduce or reuse when gift wrapping. Try wrapping with used paper bags, magazines and newspaper or burlap and cloth instead of purchasing paper. Choose bags or boxes that can be reused for other occasions or make the bag or box part of the gift.

These ideas are not just for the holidays, but can be used all year. What are some of the ways you are reducing your waste during the holidays?