'Tis the Season for Recycling

Wrapping paper, cards (if you still send them by mail), and celebrations tend to result in significant solid waste. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, mindful of the problem, offers holiday season tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling "the remnants of holiday cheer."

Among them:

  • Tips for Holiday Shopping: Bring your own reusable tote bag rather than accepting a separate bag for each purchase. Ask for the box the product came in or get a clothing box for the item instead of collecting both a box and a bag. Choose products that are minimally packaged.
  • Recycle Christmas Trees: Some communities recycle Christmas trees, chipping and mulching them for compost or landscaping materials. Trees must be free of tinsel, decorations, nails, tacks, or any other foreign materials. Check with your town office to see if a tree recycling program exists in your area. Recycle tree trunks for firewood or split for kindling. Use branches as mulch under acid-loving bushes and shrubs, such as rhododendrons or evergreens.
  • Compost: Compost your kitchen food scraps from holiday dinners and parties. Remember compost fruit and vegetable wastes only, not meat or grease.
  • Batteries:Buy rechargeable batteries.
  • Donate Old Things to Charity: New gifts will often replace appliances and clothes that still have a useful life. Collect these items and donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, local churches, day care centers, or charity groups. See if your town has a "bargain barn" or "swap shop."
  • Recycle Cardboard and Boxes: The holiday season creates a tremendous amount of cardboard waste. Be sure to separate corrugated cardboard, bundle it, and take it to your local recycling center. Check first if your local area accepts cardboard and how it should be prepared.
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Gift Wrap: Don't use wrapping paper, just add bows to holiday shopping bags or gift boxes. Only use the amount of wrap that you need. Loop string around gift boxes, then lay it out on paper to determine how much to cut. Wrap gifts in brown paper bags or newspaper. Use the cartoon section for brighter colors. Wrap gifts in festive holiday fabric, dishtowels, or bandannas, which can be washed and reused. Give gifts in baskets, tins, or jars. Save bows, ribbons, and paper to reuse next year. Shred used wrapping paper to use as filler or instead of tissue. Buy recycled gift wrap. Write the recipient's name on reusable wooden ornaments and use them as gift tags. If you buy gift wrap, look for recycled paper with the highest post-consumer content you can find.
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Greeting Cards: Buy holiday greeting cards made from recycled paper (don't forget to look for the highest post-consumer content you can find) or make your own. Use postcards to eliminate envelopes and excess paper. Clip holiday cards to make gift tags for next year. Jot down your favorite recipe on the back to include with a hostess gift.
  • Reuse Holiday Decorations: Save your holiday decorations for reuse next year. Donate decorations to local schools, churches, town offices, or non-profit organizations. Use natural ornaments such as pine cones, shells, dried flowers, or berries.
  • Tips for Mail Order Shopping: Ask mail-order companies that ship your holiday gifts not to use polystyrene packing "peanuts," but to use paper instead. Save bubblewrap or peanuts for reuse. Recycle those peanuts at businesses like Mail Boxes Etc. After you have completed your mail shopping, remove your name from catalog mailing lists by contacting: Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008, or visit www.the-dma.org.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Dec 19, 2013

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