With December upon us, we are spreading holiday cheer with twinkling lights, festive greeting cards, beautifully wrapped gifts, and many more decorative holiday traditions!
However, the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most wasteful time of the year.
In North American, we throw away 25% more garbage during the holiday season than any other time of year. This can amount to an additional 25 million tonnes of garbage being dumped in landfills compared to other times of the year. This behaviour won’t change overnight, but we can improve our recycling practices to promote a more sustainable holiday season.
When buying new holiday lights to decorate your house, consider what you already have or investing in LED light strings that save on power.
When it’s time to take your lights down for the season, do NOT put these in your recycling bin. Light strings are not recyclable, and they can get caught in machines at our Material Recovery Facility, causing the plant to shut down for hours. However, instead of throwing your holiday lights in the garbage, you can pack them away for next year or donate them to a local charitable organization.
Holiday greeting cards are a great way to stay connected this time of year, but what happens to them when the holidays are over? Greeting cards are often discarded in the trash or recycling bins; they can be recycled so long as there are no glitter, plastic, ribbons, or noisemakers.
If you’re worried about sending non-recyclable holiday cards, consider sending e-cards to eliminate the material waste altogether! But if you are a devoted greeting card sender, choose cards made of recycled materials that can be recycled again.
The recycling rules for greeting cards also apply to wrapping paper and gift bags - no glitter, plastic, or ribbons as they can contaminate recyclable materials when placed in the recycling bin.
In Canada alone, 545,000 tonnes of waste is generated from gift wrapping and shopping bags each year. Traditional wrapping paper and gift bags have to be thrown in the garbage; however, you can opt for more eco-friendly ways to wrap your gifts.
Try using newspaper or fabric to wrap your gifts while reusing string and ribbons for binding. Instead of throwing away gift bags, you can save the ones you receive and use them for giving gifts the following year.
Rethink and revamp how you celebrate the holidays by integrating sustainable practices. If you’re unsure whether something is recyclable, ask yourself how you can reuse the item or reduce buying these items. Let’s have a white and green holiday season every year.