Is it Possible to Reduce Waste During the Holidays? Spoiler alert: yes!

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It’s the trashiest time of the year—but it doesn’t have to be. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!

2020 has been a year of changes, so why not keep it up and make some sustainable changes this holiday season? We’ve outlined a few easy ways you can reduce your waste this month. 

You may be thinking, “But my reduction attempts, won’t really make a difference, right?” Your efforts this holiday season matter more than you think. Here are a few stats: 

  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper . 

Waste from Concord residents and businesses contributes to community-wide GHG emissions. The Town has a goal to reduce waste, including hard-to-recycle items, and increase waste diverted via reuse, recycling, and organics collection/composting methods. Check out what action and implementation steps have planned to increase waste diversion in Sustainable Concord Plan. (It’s the process of diverting waste that would go to a landfill by source reduction, recycling, reusing, or composting). We’ll need everyone’s help to increase the waste diversion rate by 30%. 

Here is what you can do! 

1. When wrapping gifts, consider alternatives to traditional wrapping paper. Repurpose boxes from online orders, scarves, towels, even sneaking something into some socks! Drawing on reused cardboard boxes or making your own wrapping paper by decorating paper bags can be fun for children of all ages. 

2. Reuse ribbons, bows, and bags. Save bags and wrapping items to reuse the next holiday season. A small amount of material can make a huge difference in overall holiday waste reduction. 

3. During meals, skip the plastic and use reusable cutlery, plates, napkins and tablecloths. Use the holiday sales as an excuse to arm yourself with reusable dishes and extra cutlery to reduce waste during holiday meals. This may mean an extra round or two in the dishwasher but it seriously cuts down on waste. 

4. Give experiences not gifts. Skip the wrapping all together and give the gifts of an amazing memory in the form of something you can do as a family or a donation to a favorite charity. Many people don’t really need or want more stuff, so give the gift of quality time instead. With local restaurants and businesses struggling during the COVID pandemic, shop local for gifts or gift cards. 

5. If your holiday lights need replacing, recycle them and replace with LED lights. LED lights use far less energy than regular lights, and they are far more durable. Drop off your old lights for free recycling at the Concord Compost Site in January – 755 Walden Street, Saturdays – Jan. 2, 9, and 16. Get details and learn more about recycling during the holidays here.

6. Compost what you don’t eat. Start by putting all food scraps into a bowl while you’re cooking and at the end it will be very easy to dump into the compost bin. You can learn more about backyard composting or sign-up for a curbside compost pick-up program. 

Concord is ready to take serious action on recycling this holiday season and we have multiple resources available to take care of your holiday items including Christmas trees, holiday lights, and packaging. Check out the website for details, dates, and locations.

Happy holidays from Concord! May you maximize your cheer and minimize your waste!

Waste stats sourced from: https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

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