20 Tips for Recycling & Composting During the Holidays

| Christmas

rethink reuse recycle

Sure, this time of year is often recognized as the season of giving, but many Americans don't realize just how much of an impact our traditions really have on the environment! According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends around $800 on gifts, which leads to a 25% increase in the amount of trash produced annually. Plus, our traditions lead to the demise of 300,000 trees in order to create holiday greeting cards, and about 33 million live trees to decorate our homes! We've compiled a list of easy tips to help eliminate our negative impact on the environment during the holidays.

>> Interested in saving some money and creating a gift that's sure to impress? Click here for some homemade gift ideas!

Take reusable cloth bags when you are doing your holiday shopping: Since the majority of plastic or paper bags wind up in the trash during the holiday season, these cute bags will go a long way in eliminating waste! If you do use paper or plastic bags, be sure to recycle them when you're done!

Save gift bags and boxes: Instead of bundling all the boxes and bags into the trash, you can save yourself a trip to the store by reusing them for next year's gifts!  

Don't toss your tissue paper: Tissue paper is great for protecting delicate ornaments in storage. You can also save extra tissue paper for future gift bags!

Buy wrapping paper that is made from recycled paper: A lot of companies now sell wrapping paper that is made from recycled paper as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional rolls!

Recycle your Christmas tree and wreaths: Many waste haulers now offer curbside recycling for your tree, or you can drop your evergreens off at your nearest composting facility!

Consider a candlelit holiday dinner: Not only can you conserve electricity with this simple swap, but you can also create a warm, mellow atmosphere for your friends and family to enjoy.

candlelight dinner

Use newspaper to stuff gift bags and wrap presents instead of tissue paper and wrapping paper: Get creative and save money by using the comics section or your favorite articles to stuff gift bags and wrap all your presents!

Buy gifts that don't require as much packaging: Items like concert tickets, amusement park passes, or gift cards are a great way to spread the holiday cheer while eliminating unnecessary waste.

Use electronic greeting cards: You can bypass the expense of holiday cards completely by composing free electronic greeting cards for your friends and family.

Buy rechargeable batteries for electronic gifts: Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials that are thrown away. It's no wonder that 40 percent of battery sales occur during the holidays!

Send recycled-content greeting cards: These babies are easy to come by at your nearest stationary store, and they promote a great message during the holiday season! Also, remember to recycle any cards you receive as well!

recycled cards

Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day: Not only will unplugging all of your decorations save you money, but it will also increase the lifespan of your lights!

Buy a potted tree: Once the holidays are over, you can plant it in your yard!

Make your own ornaments: Old greeting cards and artificial wreaths make awesome decorations, as do strands of dried cranberries and popcorn! Plus, hardened gingerbread men and women are perfect ornaments for your tree! Click here for more homemade ornament ideas!

gingerbread ornaments

Compost your uncooked kitchen scraps: Holiday cooking can leave you with a heap of items like egg shells, coffee grounds, and paper towel rolls. Instead of pitching them in the trash, try composting them instead! For some tips on how to get started with composting, click here.

Use LED holiday lights: LED lights last 10 times longer and use 80 percent less energy than your average strand of holiday lights! No need to skimp on your decorations this year!

Recycle old Christmas lights: Instead of pitching your old, burnt-out strands of lights in the trash, try out an environmentally-friendly alternative and recycle them as scrap metal!

Avoid disposable tableware: We know that washing the dishes can be an unwanted hassle during the holidays, but sticking with reusable dishware can go a long way in protecting our environment!

Instead of bows and ribbons, decorate your gifts with natural evergreens, berries or dried flowers: Not only will your decorations be unique, but they will also be recyclable!

christmas present

Stop junk mail: Companies tend to overload us with ads and magazine during the holidays, so just call the 1-800 number for the company to cancel future junk mail!

With just a few simple adjustments, we can go a long way in cutting down the amount of trash we produce. Remember, the holidays are all about giving, so reach out and help your community with these suggestions this year! For more holiday tips from Skinny Mom, click here!

Don't forget to check out our Thanksgiving and Christmas Pinterest boards!

Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency, Rethink Recycling, Gaiam Life, Eco-Cycle: Holiday Recycling Guide, National Christmas Tree Association