Tips for Reducing Your Thanksgiving & Holiday Waste

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holiday season. Just as alarmingly, people residing in the United States discard 33 percent more food around the holidays than they do during other times of the year.

What does all of this additional waste amount to? Approximately 25 million tons of extra trash being generated during the holiday season overall, or one million tons of additional trash being discarded every week that the holiday season continues.

Reducing Waste During Thanksgiving

While those figures are eye-opening, there are many things you can do to reduce waste on Thanksgiving and throughout the remainder of the holiday season. Although it’s tempting to use paper plates, especially if you’re expecting a large turnout for Thanksgiving dinner, you can reduce waste by using china instead. Even though you’ll end up having to do more dishes after dinner, you won’t be adding unnecessary waste to the nation’s landfills.

Another tip to prevent waste on Thanksgiving is to buy the right sized turkey and just enough trimmings. In a typical American household, 35 percent of a Thanksgiving turkey is thrown away and 25 percent of the household’s total Thanksgiving meal is discarded.

While buying an appropriately sized turkey and only enough sides to feed your guests are great places to start, you can do more to cut down on food waste during Thanksgiving if you still end up with leftovers. You can send your dinner guests home with leftovers, for example. You can also freeze leftovers to use to prepare soup down the line.

Reducing Waste throughout the Holiday Season

While reducing food waste may be your top priority on Thanksgiving, the holidays are filled with opportunities to reduce all sorts of waste. Here are some of the ways you can reduce waste throughout the entire holiday season:

  • Trim the list of people you’ll send holiday cards to so that less paper is consumed and thrown out.
  • You can save energy by putting your lights on timers so they’ll still go off if you forget to unplug them before bedtime.
  • Reuse boxes and packing materials when you ship gifts. Reuse gift bags you’ve received in the past to conceal gifts as well.
  • Buy gifts that don’t have to be wrapped, such as gift certificates, tickets to sporting events or concerts, or admission to cooking classes.
  • If you’re looking for a gift for that someone who already has everything, consider making a donation to a charity in the person’s name. You won’t have to wrap the gift and you may start a rewarding tradition of charitable gift giving around the holidays among your family and friends.
  • Use one gift to “wrap” another one instead of using traditional wrapping paper. If, for example, you’re giving someone a wool hat for the holidays, you can stick another gift like matching gloves or a scarf inside the hat.
  • Instead of wrapping gifts for your loved ones, hide them throughout your home and create a scavenger hunt for your family members to find them.

Of course, recycling is a great way to reduce waste all year long, including on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. Recycling is also the area of our industry in which we believe Lakeshore Recycling Systems can create the most positive change. To learn more about our recycling and local waste removal services in Chicago, contact Lakeshore Recycling Systems today.