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5 ways to cut down on holiday waste

Amidst wrapping paper, turkey dinners, and more, here's how you can reduce your impact on the environment during the holidays.

#1 - Gift with Greatness

  • Consider the source: Shop Small business Saturday to support local businesses and provide a much needed economic boost to the people who live and work in your community. 
  • Use recycled packaging as gift wrap to cut down on new materials used. Copies of last week’s local newspaper make great stuffing for boxes and bags and can replace wrapping paper entirely. Use reusable cloth bags when possible and consider skipping the packaging all together for especially large and small gifts.

Bonus if you have a cat, they’re sure to love the empty box you got while online shopping.

  • Give experiences, not items. A trip to the zoo, a day with a family member, etc. usually doesn't require the purchase of an object that produces waste and can bring people together.

#2 - Light with LEDS

While they may be slightly more expensive upfront, these little lights will save you money in the long run and help the environment. 

According to the US Department of Energy, LED lights can last up to 75% longer than traditional bulbs, which translates up to 40 holiday seasons. Plus, they aren’t hot to the touch (safe for kids) and are resistant to breakage because they’re not made of glass. That means no more scanning through every light to find the one that ousted the entire string.

#3 - Eat ethically

  • Meal plan. Worried you’ll buy too much or cook too little for your holiday feast? Put that fear to ease by planning your meal ahead of time. Online tools are available to help estimate the amount of food you’ll need to feed the masses and cut down on food waste.
  • Shop sustainable and local by visiting the farmers market for veggies and meat, if you’re able. Locally sourced produce is better for everyone involved. Seattle Farmers Markets advocate for equitable food access and bring attention to small farms, which often operate without pesticides and treat their employees and animals better than large corporations. If you can’t make it out, fair trade and organic products in the grocery store offer some of the same benefits.
  • Compost food waste. Consider setting a compost container on the counter for after dinner scraps

#4 - Salvage your smartphone and other electronic devices if you receive new ones. King County offers a directory of electronic recycling services where you can take all those items you might otherwise think of just tossing in the trash.

#5 - Compost the Christmas tree. King County also hosts a smattering of tree recycling programs each year, many which will take your needled friend free of charge.