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Reduce Waste with Made-Up Holidays

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You don’t need an official national holiday to prevent waste.


There’s a dearth of holidays between now and Labor Day, so why not take this stretch of time to make up a few of your own that honor the environment? Get out your calendar and pick days to celebrate these made-up holidays, each of which focuses on reducing waste in some way.

You can even invite friends and family members to join the challenge, and reward yourself for a job well done with an eco-friendly treat: perhaps a trip to the garden center to pick out a new plant for the house or yard, or a splurge on some locally grown fruit at the farmers’ market. Here are a few eco-holidays to start with:

Freeze the Fridge Day: Before those perishables and leftovers go bad and need to be thrown away, freeze them until you’re ready to use them. Fresh berries can be frozen solid on a baking sheet, then transferred to a Ziploc® brand freezer bag for storage. If you have onions, celery, carrots, or bell peppers that will go bad before you need them, dice them up and freeze them in a plastic bag or container. They’ll make for a nice shortcut one day when you’re in a rush to prepare dinner. Finally, leftovers from dinners can be frozen in oven- and microwave-safe glass containers, making them ready for a quick lunch or dinner.

Garbage-Free Day: Can you go a whole day without generating any trash? Give it a shot to see how close you can come! Compost food scraps; recycle plastic, paper, and glass; use cloth napkins and reusable cloths instead of paper towels. Learn how one couple has gone years without generating any trash, and imagine if more of us did this. The EPA estimated that each American generated an average of over 4 pounds of solid waste per day in 2012.

Trash into Treasures Day: With the stuff you don’t throw away from your Garbage-Free Day, you can celebrate Trash into Treasures Day by upcycling it into something new. Get your family’s creative juices flowing to create art or functional objects from waste. You can find inspiration online at sites like DIY Inspired or Bobvila.com. Leading up to the day, start saving small scraps you might be able to use such as bottle caps, buttons, popsicle sticks, paper scraps, and more; you can keep them organized in Ziploc® brand bags (rinse out ones you’ve already used to extend their life).

Pick Up the Park Day: Grab some old plastic grocery bags, put on some work gloves, and hit your local park to gather up litter. Be sure to separate out recyclables like empty bottles, cans, and paper; you can add them to your curbside recycling or take them to a recycling facility. Don’t forget to recycle the plastic bags you used to collect garbage, too, along with any other plastic film you found. Clean and dry plastic film (such as packaging, produce bags, and Ziploc® brand bags) can be recycled by dropping them off at one of thousands of retail locations across the U.S. Celebrate by having a picnic in your now-cleaner park when you’re done — just be sure to use reusable plates, utensils, and food containers!

Leftovers-Feast Friday: Save yourself a trip to the store, and make use of the foods in your fridge, freezer, and pantry before they go bad and need to be thrown out. Take a quick inventory of anything that’s nearing its expiration date, then use a website like Supercook, where you can enter what you have on hand to generate recipe ideas based on your ingredients.

SOURCES
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Have ideas for some made-up eco-holidays? Share your inspirations in the comments below… then add them to your calendar!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • TheConnoisseurOfClean-com C. 4 years ago
    Re: Cleaning up your local park. I actually do this all the time, as well as alleyways, bus stops, and the occasional vacant lot. I separate the trash from the recyclables and photograph it. I then upload to Twitter and tweet to @justgrabbits. Grabbits.org is an online litter participation campaign than anyone can join. Check out Grabbits.org for more info. You can also see all the litter I have picked up on my Twitter page at https://twitter.com/Urban_Urbane/media. I haven't been picking up as often since it got cold, but if you scroll back to November and beyond, you'll see a lot more of the litter photos. You can also see all the photos of the gleaning I do for recyclables (usually pulled from dumpster and from litter I pick up).
  • TheConnoisseurOfClean-com C. 4 years ago
    Re: Not using paper towels. A lot of people say give them up, but they do have their usefulness. While I use cloth towels and rags to clean, I use a half paper towel (tear to size type) to wipe the oil and grease out of my cast iron skillet before I clean it. Grease and oil is not supposed to go down the drain, and you certainly don't want to use a cloth rag for this and then put that into the wash. So using a paper towel here makes sense. I don't think you're supposed to compost oil and grease, so just toss it when you're done. I also use about 1/4 of a paper towel to re-season my skillet once it is dry.
  • rob s. 4 years ago
    Today, my puppy and I went to park like each day to get some exercise. What I do is get a bag and when I see plastic, bottle caps, beer bottle caps,(there are so many) glass and other garbage that can be recycled put it in the bag. We go to the recycling station every week anyway, so dump that stuff too. It helps keep the park and parking lot clean. Everybody can help in their own way. My pup and I enjoy the walk and clean up. Yes, it would be great if people do the correct, by not littering. I have faith, one day litterbugs understand how important it is to keep God's earth clean.
  • tommy b. 4 years ago
    Today
  • erica m. 4 years ago
    Very young kids need close supervision picking up trash on a public park because they will find very unsafe things they will not realize need to be picked up only by an adult wearing gloves.
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