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(MCT)—That classic line from the Grinch about Christmas always tugs at my heart this time of year. It’s when he realizes the true meaning of the season, “How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!” But here’s the thing—the holidays DO come with all those things and more. In fact, Americans create 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of year. What kind of gift is that to our planet? It’s not a gift I want to give. From parties to presents, there are easy and economical ways to be less trashy this time of year.

Whether you’re hosting or attending a holiday party this year, there are smart ideas to cut down on the amount of trash. If you’re throwing this year’s bash and need extra serving dishes, glasses, or linens—consider renting them. It can be much more cost effective than you think and the best part is that you usually don’t have to wash any of it before it gets returned. Also, encourage guests to bring reusable containers to take home extra goodies. Think of how many trash bags you won’t be filling with “disposable” plates and cups—not to mention all that leftover food. If you’re attending a holiday party, put a little extra thought into what you bring your hosts. A bottle of wine in a reusable wine bag is the perfect gift. Or, you can think about a waste-free gift such as a gift certificate for a massage or a manicure.

When it comes to wrapping all your presents this year, get creative. Reusing leftover wrapping paper and ribbons from last year is absolutely free. Other free options are old newspapers, construction paper from the kids, or even pretty tissue paper from previous gifts. Now what about those gift bags? I always brag to my friends that I will never buy a gift bag again. I save each one I receive and reuse them throughout the holiday season and throughout the year. Just remember to not write the recipient’s name on the actual bag because then it’s much harder to get more than one use out of it. Besides, gift bags can be pricey!

Another pricey tradition this time of year is holiday cards. Some people save each one they get in the mail but many folks simply toss them in the trash after the festivities are over. This year, try something new. Holiday e-cards are becoming much more common and they come without all the trash. There are a wide variety of online sites that will help you create the perfect card in any design you can imagine. Visit for some of my favorite e-card sites.

During the hustle and bustle of the season, you can save time and money with a few simple swaps that will also help you Do Your Part to create a whole lot less waste. Happy holidays!

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author, and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.

© 2011, Terri Bennett Enterprises, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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