Tips For a “Waste-less” Holiday

The holiday season brings with it a lot of excitement.  For many of us it’s a time for family gatherings, food, and gift giving.  Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza or just enjoy the time spent with family and friends, it can be a very busy time of year.

The last thing you want to worry about is waste collection day, right?

Unfortunately, the holiday season does bring with it a lot of waste.  It’s almost unavoidable.  Gift wrap, packaging, cardboard, and the dinner left overs!  Trust me I do my best to finish everything, but one man can only eat so many turkey sandwiches.  Inevitably, the build up in my GreenCart and Blue Box and garbage is extreme.

Here are some tips I’ve come up with for a “waste-less” holiday.

Try waste-less gifts.  Tickets to plays, movies, sporting events are always popular, and the best part is you can put them in a card with almost no waste at all!  Mom, if you’re reading this, electronics store gift certificates for me please!  Speaking from experience, parents always appreciate the offer of babysitting for a night out.  Or for the person who has everything, a donation to a charity or environmental group in their name is appreciated.

If you do give a gift larger than a credit card, put it in a reusable gift bag.  Keep the bags, store them, and reuse them next year.  This will save you money and time since you won’t need to wrap anything.  Wrapping paper cannot be recycled in the Blue Box as it is low quality paper and often contain dyes or foil which contaminate other paper when processed.  If you do have wrapping paper, place it in the garbage.

Look for gifts made from recycled materials.  Try to purchase gifts that come in minimal packaging.  Avoid disposable plates and cutlery.  If you do insist on disposable, choose paper plates over plastic or Styrofoam since the paper plates can go in the GreenCart.  Styrofoam and plastic plates are not accepted in the Blue Box, and will have to be placed in the garbage.

Oh Christmas tree!  Yeah that’s right.  I still buy real!  Really, there’s nothing like the smell of pine needles in the morning — or the pain of stepping on them in your bare feet.  It’s the whole Christmas experience really.  Remember to check your Christmas tree collection schedule before placing the tree at the curb and remove any plastic wrap or ornaments.  Christmas trees in Halton are composted into mulch.  And please, if it snows the night of your pick up, keep the tree visible.  Collection crews will do their best, but they don’t have X-ray vision.

I hope this helps you out a bit on your quest for a waste-less holiday and feel free to share any pieces of advice you may have that I’ve missed.

Happy holidays everyone!  I’m off to have another turkey sandwich.

About Ben Morris

Hi, I'm Ben. I have been working in Halton Region's Waste Management department for over 10 years. I am currently responsible for administering and supervising our waste collection, transfer, and processing contracts. I basically make sure your waste is collected each week. I have degree in Environmental Resource Science and a passion for the outdoors and spending time with my young family. I am always interested in hearing new and innovative ideas about waste management.
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3 Responses to Tips For a “Waste-less” Holiday

  1. Chris says:

    Those are great tips! In our household we always use gift bags for every holiday. We have some bags that are 20 years old! We keep reusing and reusing…….We also use old Christmas cards as name tags on the bags.

    We have also had the same Christmas tree for 40 years! Still looks great and has lot’s of memories of when I was a child.

  2. Sean says:

    Love the reusable gift bag idea…I even go so far as reusing the same bag the same day! I keep some gifts hidden upstairs and pop them in a bag after it was “opened”. I also love using newspaper as a substitute for wrapping paper…it also means you get to read the comics twice!

    My family just started using giant stockings so we don’t need to wrap gifts. Everyone just gets a few small gifts and puts them in the stockings. It’s a challenge to make sure no one sees them as they are going in too! It’s a game and a present all at once.

  3. Pingback: Simplify and rejoice this holiday season! | HaltonParents

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