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5 Ways to Reduce Your Holiday’s Impact on The Environment

These holiday tips can help create a lifetime of positive eco-habits among all of the elves in your life.


by Mt. Diablo Recycling  

The holiday season is “the” time to spread goodwill among our fellow man. All of that gift giving and holiday cheer, however, wreaks havoc on the environment.

Think about this: about 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the U.S., which is enough to fill a football field 10 stories high, according to California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The organization also reports that 38,000 miles of ribbon is thrown in the trash each year. That’s enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth.

Mt. Diablo Recycling is committed to providing resources to the local Bay Area community to inspire recycling and reuse behavior, especially during this time of excess waste creation. There are many easy ways to make less of an impact on the environment while still enjoying the holidays.

These top five green holiday tips can help create a lifetime of positive eco-habits among all of the elves in your life:

1. Try New Wrapping Paper: Opening gifts can often be more fun than seeing what’s inside, but consider that annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons in the U.S. When possible, think about alternatives to traditional wrapping paper such as newspaper, tissue paper, scarves, or baskets. Since plastic ribbon cannot be recycled, try other trim such as yarn or dried flowers. And, hang onto all the gift bags and boxes that you receive and reuse them rather than buying new ones.

2. Recharge Those Batteries: So many holiday gifts—especially for kids—require batteries. In fact, about 40 percent of battery sales happen during the holidays. To avoid the disposal of extra batteries that are harmful to the environment, purchase rechargeable batteries and think about including a battery charger as part of your gift.

3. Reuse Packing Material: Getting gifts to family members scattered across the country can mean using an excess of packing material. Choosing gifts that are easier to ship can solve part of the problem, as can reusing as much packing material as possible including bubble wrap, newspaper, and wood shavings. Packing peanuts are actually reusable and many major mailing centers and other businesses will take them in—and sometimes offer store discounts in return.

4. Recycle Your Trees: There’s nothing like the fresh smell of pine and a beautifully decorated tree to set a holiday mood. About 33 million live Christmas trees are sold each year in North America, leading to lots of disposal problems. Rather than trashing your tree, ask your recycling company about special pick-up times. Mt. Diablo Recycling’s partner companies--Concord Disposal Service, Pittsburg Disposal Service, Oakley Disposal Service, Discovery Bay Disposal Service, Brentwood Disposal Service, and Rio Vista Sanitation Service--will pick up your tree at the curb for free and recycle it. (Trees longer than five feet should be cut in half.) Another option is to buy a potted tree that can be replanted after New Year’s.

5. Think About How Much Food You Will Have Leftover: Having a few extra cookies during the holidays can make your spirits bright, but overdoing it is not only bad for your waistline but also for our landfills. Each year, at least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted, which is more than 100 pounds per person. Make sure to plan holiday meal portions accordingly so there are only minimal leftovers. Excess food doesn’t have to go to waste either—donate to a local food bank or send extras home with your guests in recyclable containers.


Do you have a tip for reducing waste during the holidays? Share it with us in the comments. 
Jayden Eden April 02, 2014 at 07:26 PM
Where can I buy a set of rechargeable batteries? It would save me a lot of money in purchasing new batteries all the time. Also, I never thought about how that would be helping the environment at the same time. Thank you for sharing. Jayden Eden | http://www.apexservices.ca/services.php

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