10 crazy facts about holiday waste

holiday waste
CC BY 2.0 William Warby/Flickr

Like, if every family in America re-used 2 feet of ribbon, we'd save enough to tie a bow around the planet!

The sustainability-minded junk removal service, Junk King, created an infographic detailing the embarrassing excess of waste we Americans conjure up over the holidays. We are terrible! Although really it comes as little surprise to anyone who has ever watched footage of the national bloodsport of competitive shopping known as Black Friday.

We love the holiday junk and all its trappings and wrappings. How much? Well put it this way: Between Thanksgiving and January 1, we gift the landfills with an additional one million tons of waste per week. (Note: I don't normally condone making nouns into verbs, as in gifting, but find it oddly soothing when describing something that rankles me so.)

Anyway, back to the facts, graphic-style:

Junk King also came up with these tips to help combat the waste – many of which we have talked about on TreeHugger before (some things can't be mentioned enough):

Wrap creatively: Wrapping paper and gift bags aren’t the only way to wrap presents. Try using a different material that you already have around your house. Newspaper, sheet music, and old maps are fun choices and are much more unique than commercial wrapping paper. You could also use scarves, t-shirts, or other fabric to wrap gifts. That way, the wrapping could be a gift as well!

Buy a potted tree: Every year, nearly 33 million live trees are sold across North America. Considering how much paper that we waste, saving a tree is the least that we can do. Buy a potted tree this year instead of cutting one down. This way, after the holidays are over and it’s time to take down the decorations, you can plant the tree in your own backyard.

Regift: Around 35% of Americans have an unopened or unused gift collecting dust somewhere. Instead of taking up valuable space or throwing it away, find it a new home. If you don’t know of anyone who would like the gift, take it to a donation center. During the holidays, there are plenty of organizations collecting gifts for those who are less fortunate.

Give sustainably: There are a number of small steps that you can take to make your gift a little bit more environmentally friendly. For example, if you’re giving a battery-powered gift, consider gifting a reusable battery charger along with it! If you’re giving someone something made from paper, like a journal, try to find one that’s made from recycled paper. Buying a handmade gift from a local shop or online store, or even making a gift yourself, can also help reduce waste, as these products are not mass-produced.

Go digital: About 2.6 billion cards are given to people every year. That amounts to just about 50,000 cubic yards of paper -- enough to fill a football field 10 stories high! And no matter how sentimental they may be, they usually end up stashed away in a box or thrown away. Instead of paying for overpriced, wasteful cardstock, send an electronic greeting card for free!

Donate your leftovers: Holiday meals are usually big ordeals, and it’s always better to have too much than too little, but most of the time the leftovers are too much to handle. Instead of wasting perfectly good food, consider bringing your leftovers to a local homeless shelter. There are plenty of people who go hungry during the holidays, and your donation could make a world of difference to someone in need.

10 crazy facts about holiday waste
Like, if every family in America re-used 2 feet of ribbon, we'd save enough to tie a bow around the planet.

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