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Waste Reduction Holiday Tips From the U.S. EPA

Release Date: 12/2/2004
Contact Information: Liz Ferry, (215) 814-2909

Liz Ferry, (215) 814-2909

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year than during any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons.

There are simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste generated during this holiday season.

When gift giving, purchase gift certificates, donate to a charity, or give a “family gift” in lieu of individual gifts. Other gift ideas include: compost bins, plants, gardening tools and books, a membership to a local environmental organization, battery chargers, homemade crafts, or transit passes.

Before making a purchase consider the following questions: How will this item and it's packaging affect the environment? Can I buy it used? Borrow it? Rent it? Share the purchase?

When wrapping or packaging your gifts try the these original ideas: newspaper cartons, posters, grocery bags, scarves, cloth napkins, unbuttered popcorn, newspaper, or clothes. If you buy wrapping paper look for recycled content paper (the higher the post-consumer recycled content, the better).

When sending holiday cards try E-mail cards or send a reusable “pass along” card by writing your message on an insert instead of on the card.

And after the holidays are over you can further reduce the amount of waste generated by:
• Planting or donating live trees and recycled cut trees
• Donating unwanted gifts and food to thrifts stores and food banks
• Composting veggie and fruit trimmings
• Recycling all your holiday leftovers: packaging, wrapping paper, bottles,
cans, etc

For recycling service providers in your area, call the environmental hotline at1-800-CLEANUP or go to