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How Our Household Waste Explodes During the Holidays [INFOGRAPHIC]

Looking forward to the upcoming Winter holidays? I'm a Thanksgiving fan myself: nothing like sharing a big special meal with family and friends. Others, no doubt, look forward to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or New Year's Eve and day. Each of these holidays have special memories and traditions associated with them; unfortunately, an awful lot of those traditions involve the creation of household waste. Whether it's food wastedfrom big meals, or wrapping paper from gifts (which is generally not recyclable), increased energy use from lights and powered decorations, or more clutter from gifts we don't really want, the holidays do a real number on our pocketbooks and the environment.

Jason Powers published this infographic on holiday waste a few years ago, and while some of these numbers likely need an update, I have no doubt that all of these increases in waste still occur (probably at higher rates). Does this mean that we greenies think people should give up holiday fun, or freeze in the dark with the rest of the family? Not at all! Rather, it's a good time to reflect on the choices we make, and how much joy we get from them. Some alternatives that could also still contribute to plenty of good times include:

  • White elephant gifts, charitable donations, or gift cards;
  • Gift wrapping made from used paper, or old gift bags, or even reusable shopping bags "dressed up" for the holidays;
  • Meal planning focused on the number of guests and portion sizes;
  • Cards made from reused or recycled materials (because e-cards really just aren't the same);
  • A greater focus on time spent together rather than things given/received.

I'm just getting started… and I can be a total grinch when it comes to Black Friday, extended hours at the mall, and heavy, heavy emphasis on buying as a means of showing love. Time is so valuable these days, and it may be the greatest gift you can give to those people you value most.

Take a look at the facts Jason's gathered up, and let us know about any updated figures you know about… or how you've made your own Winter holidays less wasteful and more joyful.

household waste during the holidays via Inhabitat