~ OP-ED ~
As anyone who has spent time cleaning up wrapping paper or the remnants of a holiday meal knows, this is the season of celebration, giving … and waste. In fact, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But, with a little creativity and planning, all of us can reduce waste over the holidays. With thanks to the EPA, here are some ideas:
- Give treasure — a favorite book, plant start, or antique. Check estate sales, flea markets, and resale shops for unique finds.
- Choose recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Shop local to support area shops, makers, and artisans while reducing shipping costs and impacts.
- Give “anti-matter”– event tickets, museum memberships, gift certificates, or even your time and talents.
- Reuse maps, comics, newsprint, kid art, or posters as gift wrap. Wrap gifts in recycled paper or a reusable bag. Or, skip the gift wrap, hide the gifts, and leave clues or trails for kids to follow.
- Give rechargeable batteries with electronics.
- Consider a potted tree that can be replanted, or a red cedar slated for removal during habitat/farm maintenance.
- All food-soiled paper products are commercially compostable, unless plastic- or foil-coated.
- Reusepacking and shipping materials. Save ribbons, bows, boxes, bags, and décor for the next holiday.
- Replant, mulch, or compost your live tree. Compost food scraps.
We can make a difference. If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet, according to Stanford University. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. If we each sent one fewer greeting card, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Whether it be during the holidays or any other time of year, as always, we will be on the job, collecting and safely disposing of whatever cannot be recycled and converting it into clean, renewable energy to power local communities. At WIN Waste Innovations, supporting the needs of the communities we serve is one of many ways we bring our Performance for the Planet vision to life.
From all of us at WIN Waste Innovations, we wish you a happy and sustainable holiday season.