It’s the most wonderful time of the year… decorations, gift giving, and celebrations with family and friends are meant to bring joy and merriment to the holiday season. But, this time of year can also create a lot of extra waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans create 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Gifts, shipping boxes, wrapping paper and more all add up. The good news is, it’s easy to make a difference for a greener holiday season. Here are a few ways to celebrate with less waste.

Choose a “gift of experience” and let your friend or loved one make great memories while trying something new. You’ll reduce waste by skipping a physical gift along with the extra packaging. Need inspiration? These are some ideas:
– tickets to the Mississippi Aquarium with a special “meet a penguin” encounter
– cooking, art, or yoga classes
– an annual State or National Parks pass to enjoy the outdoors all year long
– a local restaurant gift card
– a behind-the-scenes ballpark tour with the Biloxi Shuckers (you can even go on the field!)
– concert tickets

When wrapping presents, get creative with a basket or cloth bag. You can even recycle your kids’ art for a fun and unique wrapping paper choice. If you need to buy wrapping paper, choose one without foil, glitter, or plastic. Paper with extra embellishments can’t be recycled.

Hosting a holiday get together? Reduce your waste by using cloth napkins and tablecloths that can be used over and over again. Pick compostable dinnerware made from paper, bamboo, or similar materials instead of plastic or Styrofoam. And, don’t forget to set up a spot for recycling bottles, cans, and glass.

Recycle your Christmas tree so that it can help the environment. Most Coast communities have Christmas tree recycling programs during the weeks following Christmas. Recycled Christmas trees can be mulched for gardening, used to rebuild sand dunes, or dropped in the water to create fish habitat. Just remember recycling is for live trees, not artificial ones. Make sure to remove lights, ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations before recycling.
With these simple choices, you can have a festive season that’s a little easier on you and the environment. Happy holidays!