Trying to Reduce Your Waste During the Holidays?

Don’t let consumerism consume your holiday season!  Did you know between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the average American household’s waste increases by more than 25 percent? Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons—it all adds up. And it's not just trash. The average American spends $800 on gifts over the holiday season.

So, this year let’s make a change! Watertown has outlined a couple easy ways you can reduce your waste this year and help the planet this holiday season. 

But what can I do? My reduction attempts won’t really make a difference anyways…

Your efforts this holiday season matters more than you think... check out these wild numbers!

  • If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. 
  • 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.

Here is what you can do!

  1. When wrapping gifts, use sustainable alternatives!  
    • Think outside the box! Use earth friendly materials such as scarves, cloth napkins, or even socks. 
    • Have an old posters, magazines, newspapers or maps you no longer use? Perfect for wrapping paper!
    • Give a “treasure map” to find an unwrapped gift hidden elsewhere in the house.
    • Wrap gifts in your children’s or your own artwork.
    • Use re-useable or re-used gift bags
  2. Reuse ribbons and bows
    • Instead of buying ribbons and bows use what nature gave us! Natural evergreens, berries, and dried flowers make beautiful present garlands. Keep them as decorations or compost them after the gifts are unwrapped. As mentioned above, just reusing a small amount of material can make a huge difference in overall holiday waste reduction.
  3. Give the gift of quality time!
    • 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. 
      • A candlelit dinner
      • Make a coupon of gift certificate that offers your time to walk a pet, babysit, help around the house, or do something fun together
      • Membership to the local botanical gardens, museum or zoo
      • A gift certificate to one of their favorite activities or a favorite local restaurant 
  4. Donate your leftovers!
    • Local food shelters are a great option for getting rid of extra canned goods and dried foods you didn't quite use up during the holidays.
  5. Compost your scraps
    • Making big meals means there will always be a lot of scraps. Start by putting all scraps into a bowl while you’re cooking and at the end it will be very easy to dump into the compost bin at the end. Learn more about backyard composting here!
  6. Use rechargeable batteries
    • Did you know about 40%of all battery sales occur during the holiday season? Using rechargeable batteries instead helps to reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials that are thrown away, and in turn, can help save money in the long run!  A battery charger also makes a good (and practical) gift!
  7. If your holiday lights need replacing, recycle them and replace with LED lights
    • LED lights use far less energy than regular lights. But just as importantly, they are far more durable. 

Waste Reduction Strategies 

But where do I even recycle in Watertown? 

Watertown is ready to take serious action on recycling this holiday season – check out our Trash and Recycling Page or our 2020 Collection Calendar for more information. We want to make it easy for you to reduce your waste this season and all year long!

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