By Laura Turner Seydel

‘Tis the season for festive holiday fun, but as you’re throwing your parties, decorating your house and exchanging holiday gifts, it’s important to be mindful of the waste you’re creating during these over indulgent times.

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away on average a million extra tons of garbage each week? Do your part to minimize your impact on the planet and keep our landfills free of extra refuse by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible.

A majority of our waste throughout December comes from gift-wrap, but did you know that after it’s all added up, on average we dispose of 8,000 tons of wrapping paper, 38,000 miles of ribbon and almost 2 billion greeting cards?

Kick off your eco-holiday by prepping your home with a herbie curbie-sized recycling bin to recycle gift wrap, bottles, cans, corrugated cardboard and other holiday items that can be recycled (for a list of approved items, visit www.atlantaga.gov).

You can also cut back on wrapping waste by getting creative and making gift wrap and packaging part of the gift. Wrap a small gift in a colorful silk scarf, use a vintage cigar box to hold a hard to wrap gift or find a cool reusable shopping bag as an alternative to a disposable gift bag. You can also use recycled options like wrapping gifts in a map from a summer road trip, pages from a magazine, the comic section of the newspaper or an old holiday sweater for a truly festive look.

Another big landfill culprit is food waste, as each holiday 28 billion pounds of edible food are thrown away (that’s 100 pounds per person!).  Combat this statistic by donating your leftover holiday meals to a soup kitchen or adding a compost bin (you can get one here in town from Farmer D www.farmerd.com) to your backyard.  By adding your food residuals, coffee grounds and holiday flowers, not only will you be minimizing your impact upon our landfills but creating nutrient rich compost, which you can later use in your flower or edible garden.

Recycling efforts shouldn’t end after you’ve decked the halls, trimmed the tree and taken down the LED Holiday strand lights.  In Atlanta there are many options to recycle your Christmas tree, garland and wreaths. At Earth 911 (www.earth911.org) you can search for these drop off locations, as well as spots to recycle holiday cards and cardboard gift boxes.

This year, create traditions that incorporate these eco-friendly practices so that each year you and your family can do your part to keep the planet healthy and happy!

For more eco-living tips, visit www.lauraseydel.com.