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Have more fun, less waste this holiday season

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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the holidays – i.e. Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day – produces 25 percent more waste than usual.

Here’s what you can do on the job and at home to help protect the environment and reduce the 1 million tons of trash that ends up in U.S. landfills this time of year:

*Since packaging makes up 30 percent of America’s trash, aim for package-free Christmas shopping. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

Shop locally for items such as soaps, cosmetic and other goods that come wrapped in recyclable paper or cardboard instead of encased in plastic. Avoid gifts that are packaged in Styrofoam. And, if you receive a gift, be sure to recycle the paper, cardboard or plastic that comes with it.

*Waste from gift-wrapping and shopping bags amounts to 4 million tons in the U.S. per year. Keep and reuse or dispose of it in your paper recycling bin.

*Substitute do-it-yourself gifts and homemade baked treats for store-bought products. Here are some DIY gift ideas. Also consider gifts such as movie or concert tickets, charitable donations, or memberships to special classes or museums.

*Don’t waste holiday food. Plan your menu, cook only as much food as needed, store leftovers, and use uneaten food in your compost pile. You can also donate excess food to local food banks and charities.

*Recycle your real Christmas trees. To find the Christmas tree recycling center nearest you, go to Earth 911 and type in your ZIP code.

Waste not, want not to make this the greenest holiday season yet.

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