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Tips to cut down waste this holiday season

How to avoid turning the "Season of Giving" into the "Season of Wasting"

EUGENE, Ore. - The Season of Giving could also be known as the Season of Wasting in many areas in our nation, be it food, cardboard boxes or wrapping paper.

From Thanksgiving to New Years, Americans tend to produce more than 25 percent more waste than usual.

Lane County experts say this time of year is a good reminder to reduce and reuse, especially as recycling centers see more and more waste.

The holidays mean more food than anyone could possibly eat, ribbons, bows and gift wrap galore. To go along with it all, there's also a whole lot of online shopping.

For cardboard in particular, Oregon recycling centers are seeing a rising trend.

In 1992, the Department of Environmental Quality recorded 205,000 tons of recycled cardboard. In 2016, they saw 366,000 tons.

"Yes, there's been an increase in cardboard recycling," said Sarah Grimm, a Waste Reduction Specialist. "Online sales tend to increase the amount of waste people are producing."

So this year, experts are trying to remind everyone to be conscious of the environment.

"Be sure you're buying recycled content, and reduce the amount you buy," said Grimm.

Cardboard is just one example. Master Recycling Coordinator, Kelly Bell, says when it comes to gift giving, there are endless opportunities to reduce or reuse to mitigate the waste.

For example, gifts wrapped in old calendars, in newspapers, or bed sheets. In some instances, you can use things you'd never think of, like a potato chip bag. Even better, with simple tricks, some things can be used over and over again.

"Any kind of thin cotton cloth you can infuse with bees wax," said Bell. "You can wrap it just like you would wrap any other gift, and it's going to keep its shape."

So before you choose to purchase, stack up on gift boxes or go wrapping paper crazy, try to take a look around your house to see what you might be able to use.

"It can be elegant, it's not hacky," said Bell. "All of these things are really pretty."

Bell also recommends giving non-material gifts like experience or service. You can find ideas for those and all of her waste prevention tips at the Lane County website.

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