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Ways to Cut Waste this Holiday Season
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I love the magic and merriment of the holiday season, but as wonderful as this time of year is for many of us, the planet isn't quite so happy.

The holiday season produces a lot of waste. Household waste jumps an astounding 25 percent between Thanksgiving and the New Year, according to the EPA. That excess "25 percent" totals 1 million tons of trash.

So as we head into the holiday season, let's all agree to take it easy on the Earth and try to reduce that insane amount of waste that seems to come with our festivities. Really, what better way is there to celebrate the winter solstice?

9 Tips for Reducing Holiday Waste

1. Cook from Scratch - If you're not buying packaged, processed foods, you'll cut your waste by a lot. While you're at it, avoid frozen or canned foods if you can.

2. Skip the Wrapping Paper - There are tons of great wrapping paper alternatives. Try gift bags, boxes or fabric, or if you just can't give up the wrap, upcycle old paper products such as newspapers, magazines and even maps as "wrapping paper."

3. Buy in Bulk - Individually wrapped products use excessive amounts of packaging. Look for products you can buy in bulk or in larger quantities with minimal packaging.

4. Buy Only What Your Need - Buying in bulk is not always the best option - if you don't need 50 pounds of potatoes, you should resist the urge to save a few dollars on the giant bag, as anything you saved will probably go to waste before you can use it.

5. Don't Eat With Your Eyes - How many of us take too much at the holidays, only to throw a lot out? Start with small portions - you can always take more!

6. Share Leftovers - Whether you send a plate home with friends or family, invite a few friends over for some post-holiday party snacking, or take some foods to the office for co-workers to nibble on, make sure you use those leftovers up so they don't go to waste. 7. Do DIY Gifts - This season, when families have smaller holiday budgets, DIY is a great option for reducing your environmental impact. Make gifts personal and useful. Layer ingredients for your famous cookies in a mason jar, or upcycle teacups as candles for friends. Personal touches make a big impact, and they don't have to cost much. 8. Don't Buy Junk - Everyone has a story about small gifts that collect dust in a basement or on a shelf. If you have less money to spend this year, stretch your dollars by buying less things but investing in quality. Even most kids would rather have one great toy than a bunch of little things that they'll soon bore of. New Holiday Traditions

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