Holiday Precycling: Think Before You Buy

posted 11/29/2017

You know about recycling, but what is "precycling?"  is the process of thinking things through to reduce waste before you buy. It’s the name we give when considering waste before you buy. A good way to precycle during the holidays is to take a good look at the packaging of the gift you are about to buy. 

Is it wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam that will end up in the landfill? Is it reusable or recyclable? Or better yet, not packaged at all? Thinking about the answer to these and other questions before you buy is key to reducing waste at the holidays and throughout the year. We have some easy tips to get you started.

Giving Less is More

Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time. Holiday gift giving is one of the worst waste-producing culprits of all. Precycling encourages the purchase of items that produce the least amount of waste.

  • Choose items with little-to-no packaging. Modern-day packaging is typically composed of plastic, Styrofoam and other materials not recyclable in your curbside cart. Furthermore, Styrofoam and some plastics never breakdown in the landfill. Decreasing your packaging waste is a big waste-reduction winner!
  • Reduce how much you buy and purchase quality over quantity. Before you purchase a gift, ask yourself how long an item will last. Consider if it can be passed on in the family or donated, or is it a once-and-done kind of gift?
  • Give experiences instead of STUFF. Examples: a sleigh ride on a snowy evening; a meal at a local restaurant; concert, theater or museum tickets; and music or language lessons. Not only do gift experiences produce little to no waste, they are often the most cherished.
  • Give gifts in reusable bags. Reuse all paper gift bags over and over before recycling or tossing them. Colorful, cloth gift bags are a great alternative that can be used numerous times.

Add A Little Precycling to your Party Planning

Gift giving is not the only holiday practice that contributes to excess waste. From office parties to Christmas dinners, garbage cans are stuffed with disposable serving dishes, tableware and napkins.

  • Use reusable dishes and napkins. If you don’t have enough, consider renting.
  • Plan to have a designated recycling container at your party. Place marked bins for recyclables like bottles and cans in a convenient place for guests to use.
  • Remember to take reusable shopping bags to grocery and department stores. Leave a few bags in your car for those spur-of-the-moment stops.

By following some of these easy precycling tips, you are bound to make your holiday merry, GREEN and bright.