Holiday cheer is no reason to forget to reduce, reuse and recycle.

After you open gifts and drink your share of eggnog, think about what to do with all those discarded boxes, recently-replaced electronics and left-over food scraps. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) the holiday season of Thanksgiving to New Year Day creates nearly 25% more household waste than other times of the year due to gift packaging, gift wrap, left-over food and disposable dishes. That translates to 1 million extra tons of waste per week. Let us see what can be done to buck this trend:


Start out by referring to the newly created University Wisconsin-Extension Recycle Guide Website ( where you will find referrals to local vendor/retailer locations. These local businesses will recycle your gadgets and handle your hazardous wastes such as electronic wastes (old cell phones, computer, ink cartridge) and large appliances/metal recyclers (discarded washer/dryer). I have also posted composting information for all your plant-based food scraps. You will see that website provides a mapping function where you can search for given location nearest your home. So not only will you rid your home of clutter, you will support local business’ bottom line.


But that’s not all: Here are some other ways according to WDNR to reduce, reuse and recycle through the holidays:


  • Replace old string lights with energy-efficient LED lights.
  • Use a timer to turn off holiday lights when no one is awake to enjoy them.
  • At holiday parties, use washable plates, cups, silverware, tablecloths and napkins instead of disposables. While it will surely make more work, find a way to make it a social activity and the work will be made easy.
  • Divide leftovers in reusable containers among guests so extra food is eaten and not wasted.
  • Give your family and friends gift cards for a lunch out, tickets to a concert or sports game or park or trail passes. Giving experiences, rather than things, creates memories that last and creates much less waste.
  • Buy items made with recycled materials. Also look for gifts with little or no packaging, or packaging that can be easily recycled or reused.
  • Look for presents that are locally produced. In general, local products reduce energy costs and greenhouse gases because they don’t need to be shipped long distances.
  • Look for rechargeable batteries for holiday gifts requiring battery power.
  • Save holiday greeting cards to use as post cards or gift tags next year. If you do toss them, make sure they go into recycling.
  • Put cut trees in a corner of the yard to provide winter cover for rabbits and birds. In the spring, chip the tree and use it for mulch, or find a local Christmas tree disposal site.


Amy Greil photoFor more information on Community Planning programs in Kenosha County, please contact:
Amy Greil
CNRED Educator
Kenosha County Extension Office
19600 75th Street, #2
Bristol, WI 53104
Phone: 262-857-1935


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