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Green the season: Holiday waste reduction tips

Nov. 12, 2015, 2:25 PM

In honor of America Recycles Day, celebrated each year on Nov. 15, the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) has some tips for reducing waste and making your holiday season more sustainable. Americans throw away 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than other parts of the year, resulting in about 1 million extra tons of trash annually.

Here are some tips to reduce waste and lessen your impact this holiday season:

  • Don’t just toss empty cans, bottles, and other food packaging — recycle them!
  • When doing your holiday shopping, avoid plastic bags. Ask for paper if available or, even better, bring along reusable shopping bags for your purchases at the grocery and the mall.
  • Many cartons (stock, juice cartons, soup boxes, etc.) can be recycled in the paper recycling stream.
  • Use reusable plates and utensils whenever possible. Be sure to recycle plastic plates and cups if you must use them.
  • Opt for fabric napkins and dishcloths instead of paper products. They can be easily tossed into the washer after the festivities.
  • Take a few extra minutes to plan your menu and the amounts to cook. Preparing the right portions of food avoids food waste and saves you money.
  • At the end of the meal, send leftovers home with guests and think about composting any food scraps you might have during prep and after eating. Food waste is the highest component of our waste streams, with Americans generating 33 million tons each year.

Are you traveling for the holidays and are not sure where the nearest recycling location is? Check out this resource where you can search by material type and location to find the most convenient recycling center.

Also remember there are plenty of places to recycle on campus. Check out our campus recycling locations here and a description of all the materials you can recycle here. Have questions about what can be recycled and where at Vanderbilt? Email recycle@vanderbilt.edu or call (615) 343-2784.

Contact: Sustainability and Environmental Management Office, (615) 322-9022

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