Throughout the year you may notice extra bags of garbage going from your home to the garbage can due to holidays, birthdays, graduation parties and other special occasions. Luckily, there are ways to prevent these annual celebrations from being garbage generators. You just need the right strategies and some easy-to-implement ideas to help you reduce year-round waste. To get you started, we’ve compiled seven bulletproof ways to cut down on gift giving waste immediately.
1. Invest in Reusable Containers
No matter how well you plan, there always seem to be leftovers at a dinner gathering. While it can be tempting to bag up these extra morsels with disposable freezer bags or inexpensive plastic containers, these options aren’t just bad for the environment, but also can’t be reused. Once you eat the leftovers, many of those containers end up in the trash, and plastic takes more than a thousand years to decompose in landfills.
To avoid this practically forever decomposition, set yourself up for success before the holidays by investing in reusable containers for leftovers. Glass dishes with lids or even sturdy Tupperware containers work well. Although the latter is made of plastic, it lasts for years and can ultimately result in less plastic going to waste.
2. Skip the Wrapping Paper
If you want to avoid throwing away bags and bags of wrapping paper, upcycle your recyclables by looking for alternative wrapping solutions. There are festive canvas bags you can use year after year, or you can recycle existing paper such as newspaper or office printouts. Add a bit of paint if you want to create a unique occasion or appropriate theme.
3. Go Digital
Instead of adding more paper and additional waste to the already waste consuming world, turn to digital alternatives. For example, rather than printing a card, send a thoughtful email. Similarly, instead of buying video games with a disc and a clunky plastic case, opt for digital downloads. Virtual gifts and greetings are a great way to send a special message to the people you love without generating waste.
4. Invest in Durable Gifts
Many kid toys are destined for the landfill from the moment the child opens the box. To minimize this type of waste, consider finding high quality wooded toys instead of plastic toys that are easily breakable. Similarly, when shopping for adults try to prioritize durability over convenience.
5. Buy Recyclable Batteries
Batteries compose a shocking 20 percent of all the household hazardous waste in landfills. Batteries are one of the many items that don’t belong in the container and can be especially dangerous due to the potential to leak battery acids into the earth. Luckily, you can minimize this threat with a multi-pronged approach. When possible, try to avoid giving gifts that have batteries. If that is not possible, opt for items with rechargeable batteries. Finally, consider buying a battery recharger so that you can recharge batteries and use them multiple times.
6. Recycle Holiday and Party Decorations
Of course, batteries aren’t the only thing you can recycle. After the holiday season, consider recycling holiday decorations as well as other remnants of the celebration. In particular, you can recycle holiday lights, Christmas trees, wrapping paper, banners and even wine corks.
7. Donate When Purging
After a holiday or special occasion, many people like to clean out their house and purge unwanted possessions to make room for new gifts. If this is a tradition in your home, make sure you don’t just throw away the items you no longer want. There is a lot of truth to the statement, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and that old lamp, ridiculous T-shirt or neon sign may be exactly what someone else is craving.
Rather than filling up garbage bags of junk and tossing them in your garbage can, set things in good condition aside to donate. You may be surprised of items you can actually recycle, and there are also charities and thrift shops willing to take old items. In some cases, you can even arrange a pick up, and if there are no charity shops in your area, you may be able to throw your unwanted items into a box and mail them to a charity.
For more ideas on how to cut down on waste, give us a call at 773.685.8811 and you will speak with one of our friendly and knowledgable Customer Service Representatives.