An after Christmas story: Tips for reducing, reusing, recycling holiday trash

Have you noticed that trash cans in your neighborhood are “packed to the gills” right after the holidays? It doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s not good for our economy. Consider that every year, around the holidays and otherwise, we discard packaging material valued at about $11 billion, and we bury enough aluminum in landfills to make 25,000 jetliners.

At holiday time, an estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the U.S., enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. Electronic holiday greeting cards, offered through a variety of websites, are a convenient, no-cost, waste-free alternative.

It’s estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, more than 1 million tons of additional waste are generated each week nationwide. In fact, 38,000 miles of ribbon alone are thrown out each year — enough to tie a bow around Earth. Materials such as this, for example, are treasured by teachers for art projects.

The web is a great treasure for ideas on reducing, reusing and recycling what is normally “holiday waste.” Two particularly good sites are:

Other resources are and For Buckeyes in central Ohio, check the website of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio at

In addition, once the big day has passed and the ornaments are safely packed away for next year, there’s just one thing left to do with your Christmas tree — contact your city or county’s recycling coordinator directly, or ask your local Christmas tree grower about recycling programs near you. Also, the websites listed above offer many suggestions.—Neil Drobny; program director; Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major