With the holiday season upon us, many of us find our trash cans filled with packaging from online gift orders, festive holiday beverage cups, and takeout containers. The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day, and this has a huge impact on our health and our environment. Here are some steps you can take this holiday season and year-round to reduce your waste.

Cut back on plastic

If you look around, you’ll probably find that you use a lot of plastic in your daily life. Some common items include grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, and coffee cup lids. Take some time to identify items that you frequently throw away in your day to day life and replace those items with something reusable like cloth grocery bags, a cutlery set to keep at the office, and reusable drink ware.


This one may seem obvious, but studies show that less than 14% of plastic packaging is recycled. Check out the EPA’s website for local regulations and tips on recycling common household items.

Reuse as much as possible

You can do this by using glass packaging to store leftovers, re purposing old clothes or towels into washable cleaning rags,

Cut back on paper waste

Instead of printing hard copies of documents in the office, save them to your hard drive or email as much as possible. Pay bills online when possible. Call customer service numbers on catalogs and junk mail to cut back on the amount of mail you receive.

Make a meal plan

Around 1/3 of food produced for human consumption goes wasted. Before your trip to the grocery store, try planning out some meals for the weeks to make sure you only buy foods that you are going to eat. Make sure to save (and eat) any leftovers.

Sources: National Resources Defense Council, EPA. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.