COLUMBUS, Ohio - The "most wonderful time of the year" is also the most wasteful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years Day than any other time of the year.
Whether you are shopping, decorating, cooking or giving a gift, Hanna Greer-Brown - communications manager with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio - suggests looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. She adds you can encourage others to do the same.
"As you are hosting family and friends, if you have a recycling container, I'd encourage you to set it out in a place that's really visible in your kitchen or your dining room, so that you can capture those recyclable glass bottles, metal cans, jars, paper and cardboard," says Greer-Brown.
She notes cardboard boxes are easier to recycle if they flattened. With holiday cards, Greer-Brown recommends being selective about how many you send, or send an electronic greeting instead. And unwanted holiday decorations and lights can be donated instead of tossed into the trash.
With gifts, Greer-Brown suggests reusing magazines and newspapers, or purchasing recycled paper. You can also put a gift in something that can be reused.
"Gift bags, bows and ribbons are all excellent items," says Greer-Brown. "They hold up pretty well when you give them with a gift in them, and they make excellent items to reuse. They take up just a little bit of space, so they're easy to store and give again the following year. "
She adds Ohioans should also think about how they can reduce food waste, which increases by about 33 percent this time of the year.
"When you're out shopping, only buy the amount of food that you need. You can get creative with leftovers," says Greer-Brown. "Add, like, turkey or ham to a pot of soup and make a delicious meal. One of the things I like to recommend is sending dinner guests home with lunch for tomorrow."
The EPA says about 28 billion pounds of food waste is thrown away each holiday season.