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Tips for Reducing Holiday-Related Waste

'Furoshiki' is the Japanese method of wrapping presents with pretty, folded cloths. Courtesy image

West Hartford’s recycling coordinator offers several tips on reducing waste during the holiday season.

LED holiday lights use up to 80% less energy than conventional lights and last longer. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Submitted by Katherine Breer Bruns, Recycling Coordinator

Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of the year, according to the EPA.

Wrapping paper, decorations, packaging, and leftover food (and sometimes even the gifts we buy) don’t last long and end up in the trash. This adds 1 million tons a week to our landfills and incinerators. We have the power to change this!

The year 2020 has been a year where many have acquired new habits and essential skills. Why not add some new, more sustainable holiday shopping and decorating habits to these skills?

Also, please note that wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows are rarely recyclable and are not allowed in Connecticut’s recycling stream.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Light right: LED holiday lights use up to 80% less energy than conventional lights and last longer, so they are worth the splurge!
  2. Rethink the wrap: Reuse bags, maps, comics, newspaper, kid art, and posters as gift wrap. Try wrapping in pretty fabric like scarves, or try your hand at “furoshiki,” the Japanese method of wrapping presents with pretty, folded cloths
  3. Give experiences: museum memberships, household services (like Blue Earth Compost service – they pick compost up at your house), or personal care services; tickets to shows (post COVID)
  4. Consider the source: choose recycled or sustainably sourced materials.
  5. Shop local: this has the double benefit of supporting our local businesses while saving on packaging material *Remember to take your own shopping bag!
  6. DIY: handmade food and gifts demonstrates your creativity and dedication
  7. Reuse: packing and shipping materials. Save ribbons, bows and boxes, bags and decorations for next year
  8. Less is more: choose items of value, purpose and meaning that won’t end up in trash
  9. Donate and compost: appropriate foods

Connecticut is facing a waste crisis that we cannot recycle our way out of. Increasingly our waste is being shipped out of state as far away as Virginia!

The Recycling Partnership is encouraging people to think critically about how we can utilize our buying power in ways that benefit not only the planet but the communities we live and work in.

Let’s start reducing waste during the 2020 holiday season of this topsy-turvey year we are all happy to say good-bye to.

Happy, more sustainable holidays!

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