Prevent Waste During the Holidays

Research shows that the amount of waste created during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) increases between 25 and 43 percent. It is important to note that recycling also increases during this time. There are dozens of things each of us can do to reduce waste during the holiday season. Here are a few of the easiest ones.

Know your recycling program

Check with your local recycling coordinator to see what items are accepted in your area and available options for anything that isn’t accepted. Visit RecycleHereSC for more information by county and municipality.

Reduce food waste

Unwanted food is the No.1 item thrown away nationwide throughout the year, and the potential to waste food increases when preparing large meals during the holidays. Plan, shop and prep smart to keep good food from going bad. Learn more about preventing holiday waste from Don’t Waste Food SC.

Don’t take a holiday from recycling

Take every opportunity to recycle large cardboard boxes, gift boxes, electronics, Christmas trees and cooking oil as well as everyday recyclables. Visit RecycleHereSC to find out where and what to recycle.

Recycle right

While the amount of waste created increases during the holiday season, so does the amount of non-recyclable items in the recycling stream. This contamination can be avoided by keeping the holiday dirty half-dozen out of the recycling bin:

  • strings of lights;
  • metallic, glossy and glittery wrapping paper;
  • ribbons, bows and twine;
  • packing peanuts and Styrofoam;
  • tissue paper; and
  • plastic bags.

Material that can be recycled needs to be clean, empty, dry and loose – do not bag items before placing them in the bin. Learn to Recycle Right SC.

Give gifts that need no packaging.

Gift your loved ones memberships, subscriptions, tickets, weekend getaways and gift certificates. You can even support food waste reduction efforts by signing them up for a cooking class or donating to a local food bank in their name. These presents are clutter-free and don’t add to the waste stream.

Buy local. Buy recycled

Remember, online gifts sometimes have to travel long distances, so shopping local helps the environment while contributing to your community. Consider gifts with an environmental impact like a stainless steel water bottle, a reusable grocery bag, a solar-powered phone charger or toys made from recycled material. Also remember: homemade baked goods are always a hit.

Save energy

The U.S. uses more electricity during December than some countries use all year. Consider buying Energy Star qualified LED lights – these last longer and are 90 percent more efficient than traditional Christmas lights – or go the extra mile and buy solar-powered LED lights. Remember to turn off lights, electronics and appliances when they aren’t in use.