The holidays bring people together, but it also brings a lot of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce 25 percent more household waste -- or one million tons of trash per week -- between Thanksgiving and New Years Day than any other time of year.
That's why recycling experts are encouraging people to "think green" when making purchases and disposing items during this holiday season.
Here are some tips to reduce waste and lessen your impact this holiday season:
Be mindful when picking out wrapping paper.
According to Susanne Harm from Austin Resource Recovery, most of the excess waste collected during the holidays comes from wrapping and packaging gifts.
She suggests buying people experiences instead of material products or thinking outside the box when wrapping gifts.
"If you have to wrap it, why not get a pretty scarf? Why not wrap it in that, because it's reusable and it's also a gift," Harm told our affiliate CBS Austin.
Most shiny, metallic wrapping paper can't be recycled. You can save money and the planet by using newspaper, or leftover paper grocery bags instead.
If you’re worried about the aesthetic, you can buy recycled gift wrap from Earth Presents, and EcoPlum. For an even bigger impact, check out Green Field Paper Co. Their gift wrap is not only environmentally friendly, it’s embedded with wildflower seeds. After your loved ones open their gifts, they can plant the wrapping paper for a bonus gift of a beautiful garden come spring.
It’s best to use the dishes you already have for holiday meals instead of using throwaway utensils.
Used paper cups, plates, napkins and paper towels aren’t recyclable. Neither are plastic forks, knives or spoons.
"We get in a hurry and instead of using our dishes, we use disposable things," said Harm.
If you can’t avoid using disposable tableware, make sure you throw it in the trash and not the recycling bin. Make sure to plan the right amount of food for your holiday party to avoid wasting food.
Cardboard boxes, soda cans and bottles are all considered high-value recyclables.
If you do a lot of shopping online, chances are you have a lot of cardboard boxes laying around this time of year. Make sure you break all your boxes down, even the small ones, so they all fit inside the recycling bin.
If you’re hosting a party, leave extra trash bins out for guests to throw away their drink cans and all those empty champagne/wine bottles.
If you don't know where to take your recyclables, check out Earth911.com. You can search by material type and location to find the most convenient recycling center