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A red train carrying holiday waste up a mountain of trash in a landfill.
Celebrating Sustainability

How Much Does Waste Generation Rise During the Holidays?

During the holiday season, Americans produce 25% more trash. We put together a resource that will help you reduce your waste generation this holiday.

Rachel Brown | December 15, 2021


As we leave our workplaces and sign off of Zoom for the holidays, we trade the stress of the job for the stresses of upholding traditions, hosting festivities, feasting, and gift-giving. And that leads to a shift away from typical non-holiday behavior, particularly around how often Americans are running garbage bags out to the curb.

During the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Years, Americans toss 25% more trash, producing an additional one million tons of waste every week.

Between trends of surging online retail, the rise of convenience-driven takeout meals, and ornate gift wrapping, Americans stand to make more waste than ever this holiday.

This means that we need to be both proactive and mindful about reducing the amount of waste we generate and dispose of—and RoadRunner has just the tips you need to make this season a little greener.


Yes, it's possible to celebrate the holidays while reducing your waste!


25–30 million Christmas trees are sold every year

If you have a real Christmas tree, be sure to "tree-cycle". Most cities offer curbside pickup or designated dropoffs for trees a few weeks after Christmas—oftentimes, they’ll be mulched and used in public parks. You can check with your municipality to find out when they are collecting them. Another option you may want to consider is using an artificial tree, which can be used year after year!


The equivalent of 30 million trees are used for the paper rolls we use to wrap Christmas gifts

Unfortunately, wrapping paper isn't recyclable. A more sustainable option is to use items you already have in your house! Newspaper, maps, book pages, and even brown paper bags are creative ways to “reuse” items you already have—plus, all the examples we’ve given are 100% recyclable.


1.6 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States alone

Most cards are thrown out anyway, so consider sending an e-card or use recycled cards. When you receive someone else’s well wishes in the mail, make sure you’re recycling it—you can reference our post for what types of mail are perfectly recyclable.


Packaging makes up ~30% of America’s trash

Look for gifts that are package-free or don’t require much packaging. For example, Beauty brand Lush sells handmade soaps that are wrapped in paper instead of plastic packaging.

When you’re left with countless cardboard boxes, ensure they’re broken down flat and stacked in your recycling bin.


We throw away 38,000 miles of ribbon

Make sure to save and reuse your ribbon from year to year. When you receive ribbons on your presents, they can be saved for your own gift wrapping.


While work is the last thing on your mind between Thanksgiving and New Years, making sure your business is prepared for the year ahead is important. With rising landfill tipping fees, gas prices higher than average, and the greatest focus on sustainability to date, you need a partner with market expertise to navigate uncharted waters.

An infographic giving tips for reducing holiday waste generation. 

With a toolbox full of solutions for the newest challenges, RoadRunner can make reducing waste your business’s lasting resolution. Talk to one of our account strategists after the holiday to get started.



Let's get the conversation started on how to drive recycling and cost savings for your business.