Tips to Reduce Waste this Holiday Season

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Though we often practice the “recycling” portion of the popular mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” we sometimes neglect the rest of it. Recycling is incredibly important to the well-being of our planet, but there are many proactive steps we can take to make recycling the last resort.

This may seem daunting, especially now that it’s officially the holiday season, but with online resources, tips and tricks, it can be much easier than you’d think.


  1. Wrapping paper

Old paper bags, magazines and newspapers make great wrapping paper supplements. They can be used creatively, simply and practically. Reusable paper is also much cheaper than buying rolls of wrapping paper, which is especially something to keep in mind if you are a college student.

  1. Gifts

There are two main sources of waste involved with purchasing gifts for the holidays: shipping and packaging. Both are easy to fix by refraining from ordering items online from large retailers, despite how cheap or convenient it may be. This may not seem very appealing, especially as a college student with a low budget, but there are plenty of DIY holiday gift ideas that involve little to no waste. Also, consider gifts that don’t have to be physically present, such as a gym membership or concert tickets.

If you’re having issues coming up with something, check out this list of zero waste gift ideas.

  1. Food

Why does food waste matter? Wasted food, which could benefit the hundreds of millions of people who are currently starving, produces excess amounts of methane, negatively contributing to the quality of our air and the planet as a whole.

One way to reduce your food waste is to plan out the exact amount of food you’ll need to feed the number of people you’re hosting or cooking for. You could also start an at-home compost system (learn more about composting) for your food scraps or donate any leftover non-perishables you have after the holiday season is over.

  1. Leftovers

Plastic wrap, styrofoam plates and plastic utensils are staples for many holiday parties, but they don’t need to be! Plenty of companies make reusable food wraps, some of which are non-toxic, organic and biodegradable. Simply wash and reuse them when necessary.

Plastic utensils and bottles take between 100 and 450 years to decompose, and styrofoam plates take anywhere from 500 to 1 million years to decompose. This simply isn’t worth the convenience they give us. Opt for your own glass dishes and metal silverware while hosting a party to save millions of years of decomposition.


Jordan Sickon is a senior double majoring in English and Professional Writing. In addition to her position on ing, she is the copy editing director of MSU’s campus fashion magazine, VIM. She has a deep love for sweet potato fries, coffee and the Great British Baking Show. You can find her on Twitter @jordansickon.

Tags: Eco friendly, environment, go green, green, holidays, reduce waste, save the planet