Mindful gift giving can help reduce holiday waste

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 9:28 AM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - It’s a fairly common sight this time of year-- garbage cans heaped with cardboard, gift bags and boxes from Christmas gifts. In fact, Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Years’.

Karin Sieg from the Marathon County Solid Waste Department joined Sunrise 7 Monday to explain easy ways to reduce the amount of trash you accumulate and throw away.

Sieg said unwanted holiday gifts could actually end up in the landfill-- 5 billion pounds of gift returns end up in landfills every year. When you return an item, the chances of it being restocked and resold are surprisingly small. Giftster.com reports the logistics to process a return can be quite cumbersome for retailers, not to mention expensive.

Sieg said giving gifts with minimal waste is a better idea.

“The one thing is the ideas of coupons for doing services, memberships, tickets to events, some kinds of experiences. So the idea that you’re encouraging an experience rather than just a thing. So that’s always a wonderful way to just know that you’re spending time with someone as well,” said Sieg.

Sieg also encouraged giving gifts that are homemade or upcycled. Mittens that have been made from sweaters or potholders made from other materials are great ideas.

Other ideas include gifts that are consumable like jellies. Or other homemade items such as soaps and candles.