Like it or not, most of us generate a lot of extra waste during the holidays. According to EPA, we Americans collectively generate an extra 1 million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Yikes! To reduce our environmental footprint, here are five simple tips to help keep food and packaging waste in check—with a little help from plastics.
- Reseal. Have you noticed all those thin, lightweight resealable food pouches in the grocery store? These flexible packages use very little material—usually just a bit of plastics and sometimes a bit of other lightweight materials—so they create little waste. And you can zip them up after opening to store your extras. You can keep food fresher longer by squeezing out the air as you reseal. So look for food in resealable pouches.
- Love your leftovers. Letting tasty leftovers go to waste is no way to celebrate. You can help reduce food waste by promptly transferring food to airtight plastic storage bags and containers. Reducing the air that comes into contact with food is key, so be sure to squeeze excess air out of bags and use appropriately sized containers. And remember to freeze or refrigerate leftovers quickly.
- Recycle while you celebrate. Recycling is one easy way to cut back on waste, but it isn’t always easy during a party. A simple solution? Set up a designated recycling bin labeled with all the recyclables you can collect, and ask your guests to pitch in! This easy step can benefit the environment—and make party cleanup a lot easier.
- Resolve to recycle more. Looking for one new step you can take to reduce waste? Here’s a suggestion: Whether you shop online or at stores, chances are you’ll accumulate some polyethylene plastic wraps and bags this holiday season. Polyethylene is the type of plastic used to make shipping pillows, bubble wrap, shopping bags, dry cleaning bags—even bags for bread, produce, and food storage. Plus plastic wraps from products such as water bottles, diapers, napkins, and more. All of these bags and wraps can be recycled at 18,000 grocery and retail stores across the U.S. DON’T put this material in your curbside recycling bin. DO look for the storefront collection bins and drop off your clean and dry bags and wraps.
- Close the loop. Looking for eco-friendly gift ideas? Seek out fun and useful items made with recycled plastics. For example, it’s easier than ever to find durable, attractive items such as cutting boards, mixing bowls, measuring cups, storage containers, and spatulas made with plastics recycled from milk jugs, yogurt containers, bottle caps, and more. If you know a foodie who’s passionate about the environment, these recycled kitchen tools can make great holiday gifts.
So keep the environment in mind and help keep food and packaging waste in check while celebrating with family and friends. For more information about food prep, storage, and tackling waste, click here.