Holiday Recycling

The holidays are here and times are filled with cheer. Families get together, no matter the weather. Gifts are covered in wrap; trees are bought, some with sticky sap. Hung in the air are mistletoes; what to do with the waste once the holiday season comes to a close?

Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year holiday period. The added waste adds up to 25 million tons of garbage.

Trivia Question: If every family reused two feet of ribbon, how many miles of ribbon would be saved?

a)    21,000
b)    29,000
c)    33,000
d)    38,000

The correct answer is d. That is enough ribbon to wrap around the entire planet one and a half times!

Viewer Tip: Taking the time to recycle gift wrap, trees, ribbon and more can prevent waste from heading to the landfill. Reducing waste during the holidays may be easier than you think. Here are a few ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle during and after the holidays.

  • Wrapping Paper: As you are gift wrapping this year, remember to recycle leftover paper scraps and save the pieces you didn’t use for next year. Don’t have any wrapping paper? Substitute newspaper, fabric or brown paper bags, or buy recycled-content holiday gift wrap.
  • Holiday Cards: An estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States. Consider sending an electronic holiday greeting card. They are convenient and waste-free. If you receive a holiday card, remember to recycle them!
  • Christmas Trees: Approximately 35 million Christmas trees are sold in North America each year. Did you know you can recycle your tree? Find out if your community offers curbside pick-up, take it to a recycling center, cut it up for use in your yard as mulch, or place it in your compost bin. Learn more about recycling Christmas Trees.
  • Reusable Bags: About 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags get trashed in the U.S. annually. Consider using a reusable bag while doing your holiday shopping and picking up groceries.
  • Ribbon: Did you get a gift wrapped with ribbon? Unwrap it carefully and save the ribbon to use next year.

Visit EPA’s website for more tips on holiday recycling and reducing waste.

Image: Jorge Barrios, Wikimedia Commons

(Sources: EPA, “Wastes – What You Can Do,” http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/funfacts/winter.htm; Stanford University, “Frequently Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention,” http://bgm.stanford.edu/pssi_faq_holiday_waste; San Mateo County, “Facts on Holiday Waste,” http://www.recycleworks.org/resident/holiday_facts.html; CA.gov, “A Season for Giving, Not for Discarding,” http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/publiced/holidays/nowaste.htm; Earth911, “Facts About Recycling Wrapping Paper,” http://earth911.com/recycling/facts-about-recycling-wrapping-paper/; National Christmas Tree Association, “Recycling Your Tree,” http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/AllAboutTrees/HowtoRecycle.asp)

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