Tips To Reduce Holiday Waste

Those EPA folks have some handy ideas on how to trim down the enormous mounds of waste that is dumped into landfills during and after every holiday season. You can get your family involved at home, and your coworkers involved at the office. For younger kids, you can make a game out of it. For older “kids,” an incentive may be needed, such as dinner at a local restaurant for the person or team who recycles the most between now and New Year’s.

  • Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases [especially if you’re carrying around an over-sized tote bag anyway!].

  • Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper [we do this in my family a lot]. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates [or cash!].

  • Send recycled-content greeting cards to reduce the amount of virgin paper used during the holidays. Remember to recycle any paper cards you receive. You can also try sending electronic greeting cards to reduce paper waste.

  • About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts and consider giving a battery charger as well [I dug out my old one just last weekend]. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away and can save money in the long run.

  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.

  • Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. Check with your community solid waste department and find out if they collect and mulch trees. Your town might be able to use chippings from mulched trees for hiking trails and beachfront erosion barriers.

  • To help prevent waste from cutting down and disposing of live trees, you can buy a potted tree and plant it after the holidays.

  • Have a create-your-own-decorations party! Invite family and friends to create and use holiday decorations such as ornaments made from old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries [I remember doing this as a kid!], wreaths made from artificial greens and flowers, and potpourri made from kitchen spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

  • Consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money. [Also look for the Energy Star label on electronics.]

  • When buying gifts, check product labels to determine an item’s recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials. Buying recycled encourages manufacturers to make more recycled-content products available.

  • Use your own camera instead of a disposable one to reduce waste while capturing holiday memories. Consider buying a digital camera so that you don’t have to use film and only print the pictures you want to keep.

  • Kelly's Tips

    Every year, my colleagues and I receive CDs (and some DVDs) with product and press releases from industry manufacturers and marketing agencies. Don’t get me wrong - I love this medium over printed releases and photos, but you end up with a lot of plastic at the end of the year. But don’t throw those old CDs and DVDs in the trash. They can be recycled. Some companies even take the jewel cases, but I usually save those myself for when I burn CDs for family photos or work files. I recycle flash drives, too - great for transferring info between team members when the server is down.

    If CD/DVD recycling is not available in your area, you will have to mail them to a center to be shredded (you can use the U.S. Post Office’s flat-rate boxes as long as the weight is less than 70 pounds). Some companies will even send you a container to fill; it’s a flat fee for the container and the shipping.

    And don’t forget to recycle all that paper you’ve accumulated over the year - purge and recycle! If you don’t have a recycling program at your company, see if you can add it to your garbage disposal service.

    For other tips on reducing waste, recycling electronics or disposing of hazardous waste, visit the EPA’s site at

    Do you have any tips you’d like share?


    Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Plumbing & Mechanical. 

    Recent Articles by Kelly Faloon

    You must login or register in order to post a comment.



    Image Galleries

    2014 Truck of the Month

    PM has featured so many great plumbing service trucks! See plenty of them here in our Truck Of The Month Archives page. Are you proud of your truck? Go to our Truck of the Month page to find out how your service truck could be chosen!

    5/28/15 2:00 pm EDT

    Efficient Variable Speed Pump Selection & Control

    This webinar will help to answer questions like: "How many pumps should our system use?" and "How should we sequence (stage) on additional pumps?"

    Where do you look for new employees?

    Where do you look for new employees?
    View Results Poll Archive

    The Plumbing and Mechanical Store

    2015 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

    Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

    More Products

    Clear Seas Research

    Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


    Connect to PM on Facebook Connect to PM on Twitter  Watch PM on YouTube    Connect to PM on Linked InGoogle+

    Truck of the Month

    Truck of the month

    Are you proud of how your service truck looks? Do the graphics give people whiplash as they drive by? Have your calls increased because people remember your truck — and your company name? If so, we’d like to see it, too! Click here to find out how your service truck could be chosen as PM's Truck of the Month.