SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – It’s the time of year to eat, drink and be merry. However, many factors of the holiday season are taking a toll on Mother Earth.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away close to 25 million tons of garbage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About five million pounds of that trash is from uneaten food.

“It’s estimated that if food waste in America were a country, it would be the third biggest polluter behind the United States and China in terms of greenhouse gages” said Lauren Olson, a Zero Waste Manager, with Rohnert Park-based World Centric, a compostable tableware company that gives 25% of their net profits to social impact causes. “That includes all the packaging and transportation, and purchasing that food and just wasting it.”

One way to limit food waste, is to avoid overbuying it and to buy the correct amount needed.

If you’re already on the right track of recycling and composting your waste, be sure you’re putting each item in the right bin. If you don’t, your mishap could destroy the whole load. “You’re really messing up the whole process and not allowing certain items to be recycled or composted,” explained Olson.

Another way to reduce waste is to rethink how you wrap those presents sitting under the tree. Olson recommended using a gift bag and tissue paper, those items can be used year after year. If you’re really hankering for a wrapped gift, opt for metallic-free wrapping paper.

Olson also suggested skipping the Christmas tree farm this year, and choose a potted one instead. If you can’t bear the thought of that, make sure you know where your tree goes after the holiday. Some options are to compost it or send it to a farm.

Another staple of the season affecting the environment as those holiday lights strung on house, trees and front lawns. It’s estimated that Americans’ annual holiday displays use as much power as entire developing countries.

If you still want to be in the holiday spirit, but also be environmentally friendly, Olson recommends buying LED lights and putting them on a timer to prevent a pricey electricity bill and reduce energy use.

World Centric offers other ways to make the holiday season greener on its website.

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