5 Hacks for Holiday Waste Disposal Everyone Should Know

The holiday season brings joy, laughter, and copious amounts of good food. Unfortunately, it also often brings a significant amount of waste. You can transform your holiday celebrations into waste-smart events with a few simple yet effective hacks.

These tips are meant to help decrease the stress of the holiday season waste pile-up, not contribute to the already overflowing to-do list. You don’t have to adopt all of them to see huge benefits in your waste flow and general holiday experience.

Each hack takes a common part of the holiday season and provides a new way of thinking about how to accomplish the same task. Holidays are a time of traditions. Hopefully, this season can continue the heritage while getting rid of the trash.

1. Rethink Wrapping Paper

Did you know that the tradition of wrapping gifts dates back to ancient China and Japan? What started as a way to protect gifts from evil spirits has turned into a massive waste contributor.

Most traditional wrapping paper is non-recyclable due to its glossy and dyed surface. Even eco-friendly branded ones often include non-recyclable tape and ribbons. All of this results in over a million pounds of wrapping paper being dumped in landfills every holiday season.

Instead of buying new wrapping paper, why not wrap gifts in a beautiful scarf or a piece of fabric? Not only is this a creative alternative, but it also adds an extra layer of thoughtfulness to your gift-giving. Other effective, fun, and inexpensive alternatives include:

  • Newspaper
  • Clothing
  • Reusable bags

For larger gifts, consider hiding them and then leading the recipients on a treasure hunt to discover them. It’s a jolly time and doesn’t require any wrapping at all.

2. Rethink Food Containers

During holiday feasts, disposable food containers and plastic wrap tend to be as common as candy canes. While often used in the name of convenience, they frequently end up causing more garbage clean-up. People end up using two plates and three cups in one night because they have so little integrity.

There are better options. Instead of plastic wrap, opt for reusable beeswax wraps that can be washed and used again. For those leftover holiday goodies, consider using glass or metal containers instead of single-use plastic ones. At a larger family gathering, washing dishes can be a special bonding time or the assigned job to occupy the teenagers.

Plates of cookies are a classic holiday staple. This year, consider a cookie exchange party where everyone brings treats in reusable containers. Not only will you have a delicious assortment of goodies, but you’ll also have more valuable face-to-face interactions with the do-gooders.

3. Rethink Decorations

Decorations set the winter holidays apart from all the others. Plastic baubles, synthetic wreaths, and disposable string lights all bring smiles and the holiday spirit for their short useful lifespan. Then they contribute to landfill waste and take hundreds of years to decompose.

Let’s think about some less harmful alternatives for each holiday:

  • Halloween: Pumpkins at Halloween are much more fun to make than spreading fake spider webs and plastic around the yard.
  • Thanksgiving: Instead of these non-biodegradable decorations, why not create a centerpiece from pinecones, cinnamon sticks, and dried orange slices? These natural elements not only look beautiful but also spread a lovely seasonal fragrance.
  • Christmas: Invest in Christmas tree ornaments that will last for years, not days.

Many waste-free decorations harken back to the traditional ones of grandparents and great-grandparents. It’s a beautiful time to embrace these old styles and the accompanying nostalgia.

4. Rethink Gifting

The convenience of online shopping is undeniable, but the excessive packaging often clogs garbage bins and fills up basements. Instead, consider supporting local businesses or visiting artisan markets for unique and thoughtful gifts.

  • Experiential gifts: A popular way to reduce waste is by giving experiences. Think about gifting a cooking class, spa day, or concert tickets.
  • Homemade gifts: Remember that time your friend made you a personalized recipe book? Or when your sibling hand-painted a mug just for you? These homemade gifts have sentimental value and showcase thought and effort, making them a level above the latest fad on Amazon.

5. Rethink Trash Pick-Up

Finally, and potentially most useful, don’t stuff yourself into the same waste disposal containers you use for the rest of the year.

Contact a local trash pick-up service, and they can help dispose of waste throughout the season or just after the bigger gatherings and events. One phone call can save you hours of clean-up.

In a (non-wrapping paper) Wrap:

The holiday season can be a time of festive abundance without excess waste. By rethinking our wrapping, food containers, decorations, gifting habits, and waste management strategies, we can enjoy nostalgic, life-giving celebrations. Ultimately, these are hacks to be kind to ourselves and the planet.