COLUMBUS – The “most wonderful time of the year” is also the most wasteful.
Household trash increases by an estimated 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, said Dina Pierce, public information officer for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Food waste is a part of that, she said, with about 28 billion pounds of still-edible food tossed in the trash during the holidays.
“If people’s families are like mine, we have way more food than anyone can possibly eat at our gatherings,” she said. “With careful planning, you can not have as many leftovers or as much food waste. And have people bring take-home containers to take leftovers with them.”
Pierce also advised folks to avoid using disposable plates, cups and cutlery. Another big contributor to holiday waste is gift wrapping, and she recommended reusing gift bags from last year or using newspaper, magazines or coloring-book pages.
With smartphones and tablets being popular gifts, it’s often “out with the old and in with the new.” After the holidays, Pierce said, it’s extremely important to recycle electronics because they contain toxic materials.
“Take the old ones to either donate them or take them into the places where you got the new devices,” she said, “and a lot of times they will take those and recycle them.”
Thinking about ways to recycle and reuse year round not only reduces waste but can also save money, Pierce said. One example, she added, is to invest in reusable shopping bags.
“Those plastic bags can build up two or three items in each bag, and then soon you have 15 bags,” she said, “where reusable bags are sturdier and you can get more items in it and then just keep using them over and over again.”
According to the EPA, Americans generate about 25 million extra tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
More information about recycling in Ohio is online at epa.ohio.gov.