Reducing Waste During Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays

  • Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day. Make a commitment to recycling this fall by getting involved in local events, and by making a pledge to recycle more and buy products made from recycled materials.
  • Grass clippings and shredded (or unshredded) leaves make excellent mulch. Pile shredded leaves deep around your shrubbery, as well as in and around any plants you want to overwinter in pots.
  • If you host a party, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses and silverware. Consider renting more formal tableware that you might not use very often. Also save and reuse party hats, decorations and favors.
  • After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Where possible, compost leftover food scraps, leaves and grass clippings.
  • Show your guests where to put recyclables such as aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers.
  • After parties, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. You will run fewer cycles, which saves energy.
  • Wash and reuse empty glass and plastic jars, milk jugs, coffee cans, dairy tubs and other similar containers that would otherwise get thrown away. These containers can be used to store leftovers as well as buttons, nails or other loose items.
  • Avoid placing hard, thick or waxy food scraps down the drain. These materials can clog the pipes or damage garbage disposal blades and send parts of your sink to the landfill before their time.
  • Buy products in concentrate, bulk or in refillable containers. Many items are available in these sizes. They reduce packaging waste and can save you money. Combine waste reducing practices, such as buying coffee in bulk and storing it in your leftover empty coffee cans.
  • If you going away from home for the holidays, to save energy, turn down your thermostat and put lights on timers.
  • November is an excellent time of year to conduct neighborhood food or clothing drives to help those in need.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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