Winter is a time when you can end up with huge piles of rubbish, including leftover food no one wants to eat, wrapping paper, ornaments, beverage bottles, yard waste, and unwanted gifts. As with other times of the year, you can reduce waste through getting in habits of reducing, reusing, and recycling. The five tips below will reduce the amount of waste your household produces and may actually save you money too. Anything you throw into a landfill or dumpster, after all, represents money you are throwing away.
Late Fall and Winter produce yard waste in the form of dead leaves and grass trimmings, as well as branches and dead flowers you prune in preparation for winter. There are several ways to reduce yard waste and at the same time improve the quality and health of your yard. Invest in a mulching mower which recycles grass clipping back into your yard. Leaves and other dead plant matter can be made into mulch or composted to make fertilizer. Landscaping with rock gardens and evergreens will also reduce yard waste.
The key to avoiding food waste is careful planning. Think of food in terms of planning menu cycles, where you might have a roast chicken one day, a stir-fry the next day, and chicken soup the third day. Rather than shopping impulsively, make a list and stick with it. Another way to reduce waste is to learn how to make soups and stews. Almost any leftover meat, beans, or vegetables can be added to a stew or soup. If you buy more food than your family can eat in a couple of days, perhaps taking advantage of discounts or specials at your local store, freeze the extra food in separate meal-sized portions which can be quickly and conveniently reheated in a microwave. Finally, compost left over food scraps to make a rich fertilizer for your garden.
Holiday Wrappings and Ornaments
Although a batch of beautifully wrapped presents looks enticing, the next day all of those lovely wrappings can turn into an ugly group of overstuffed garbage bags. There are several ways to present gifts without spending extra money on packaging that goes directly into the garbage. First, reusable stockings are an attractive way to display small gifts. Next, make sure to unwrap gifts carefully so you can reuse wrappings. Consider reusing ornamental shopping bags or crocheting or knitting attractive totes that are useful after the holidays as a way of “wrapping” gifts. Ornaments can also be reused. Rather than buy and toss out an indoor Christmas tree, plant a pine or fir tree outdoors and decorate it, and then place your presents beneath a window looking out over a beautiful living tree.
While giving gifts is a winter holiday tradition, they can also be a waste of money and contribute to landfill disposal usage. We all have received many gifts we don’t like or don’t use, especially from relatives. The day after Christmas was called “Boxing Day” because it was a day people boxed up unwanted gifts and donated them to the poor. The ugly sweater you will never wear could keep a homeless person warm in freezing temperatures and the toys your kids will never use could make a child living in poverty very happy.
For older children, consider something useful like phone minutes or a gift card. Younger children can benefit from downloadable films or games that have no packaging at all. For adults, or even more mature children, consider giving to charity. Donating to a poor family or spending Christmas day helping at a soup kitchen is more in the spirit of the holidays than going shopping and creates no waste at all.
If you go shopping during the winter sales, you can bring back armfuls of bags and packaging that go right into the garbage. Save money and landfill space by investing in inexpensive, reusable tote bags.
Featured photo credit: Waste2ValueIndia.com via waste2valueindia.com