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What We Can Do To Protect The Earth, The Environment, and Each Other Over The Holidays!
December 10, 2009 - 12:12pm — Matt Kegelman
Recycling can be tough—it’s easier in theory than in practice—especially over the holidays. With all the people coming over for your Christmas or Hanukah Celebration, it’s tough to keep up with everyone; let alone what they are doing with each and every piece of trash they’ll throw away. Normal recycling habits get thrown out of whack!
But celebrating your holiday of choice can be done in an eco-friendly way... Read this article, and it will make it easy for you to do the impossible: The first key is to know what types of ............... ........... .................................................. .. materials can be recycled.
Recycle What You Can (This Year & Always):
Wrapping Paper …………………………(see below for alternatives, a few restrictions)
Cardboard ……………………………………(both the brown, “corrugated” type)
Paperboard………………………………… (thin, hard cardboard)
Plastic Shopping Bags ………………(both #2, low-density, and #4 types)
Old Electronics ……………………………(bring to a dump station—there are tons!)
Your Christmas Tree ………………… (they turn it into wood chips, boards, or paper pulp)
Batteries ………………………………………(EARTH911 will tell you where to bring them!)
Certain types of plastic………………(check with local authorities for their processing ................. ................................................... capabilities for plastic cups, plates, and cutlery)
It’s not all that tough if you have curbside recycling. Consider getting someone you know or your entire family a year’s worth of recycling fees for a great holiday gift—it costs only about 75 dollars and—it’s the environmentally responsible thing to do! If you can’t afford it (or just don’t feel like you would use it enough to have a real need to pay for the service), you can still find a recycling center nearby where they offer designated bins for collection of paper, cardboard, plastic containers, even batteries (see below)—all of which will be later be recycled.
Call your local garbage collection authority or municipal wastes service people and they will let you know where to go! This year we're going to better than ever for the environment + for each other!
Obviously buying recycled wrapping paper and tossing it all in a recycling bin (for either curbside pick-up, or delivery to a local recycling center) is the best way to go here. But not everyone has the money just laying around to be able to buy only recycled wrapping paper for all their holiday gifts. If you buy 5 rolls of regular paper you end up spending about 15 or 20 dollars; but if you get all recycled paper (it costs about 7 or 8 dollars per roll) you will end up spending $40 on paper alone! So, basically, the best thing to do buy whatever you can in the way of recycled paper—recycling even one roll makes a small (but positive) difference for the earth.
And remember, that’s if you must use wrapping paper at all…
Some alternatives to wrapping paper:
- Use something else—think about it—You can wrap a gift in pretty much anything (flat)!
- Use can use the comics section of the newspaper (or the stock section for a stock broker, sports page for an athlete), or use paper lunch bags, brown paper bags, or paper scraps, all of which can be decorated!
- If you have a bunch of fabric lying around, you can use that.
- Or cut out the cool images from your giftee's favorite magazines and paste them all together in a collage (Go Very Green - use natural, as opposed to synthetic, glue)
- Use a fancy cardboard box and build a covered housing for the gift you intend to give.
- Use “natural” wrapping paper, made from leaves or corn husks (cleaner), or perhaps if you don't mind getting a little dirty, use bark and moss—the wrapping paper is Alive, be careful what you take though, LNT.
_____What to do with that huge pile of wrapping paper once all the gifts are opened?
As you are opening all your gifts (not after, it's way easier this way):
Separate it into two piles: One for the recycling and one for the trash!
If you already know what kind of paper you are using (say you already purchased it and have some left over from last year, which is true in my case) and it’s not made from recycled materials, you might still be able to recycle your standard wrapping paper!
After speaking with the nice people at DSWA, and reading their past and present press releases (read last year’s article here) concerning holiday recycling, I can tell you:
Here’s What You Need to Know about What Kind of Paper is OK FOR RECYCLING:
So, almost anything made of paper... As long as it isn’t metallic or “aluminum-y” or covered in a layer of plastic then you are good to go. And by recycling all that standard wrapping paper this year, you will help cut down on our carbon emissions, because it’s easier and less energy intensive to recycle paper than it is to harvest new trees for paper pulp.
It will make a difference—for the better …
It will make a difference—for the better … for the environment…
It will make a difference—for the better … for the environm ent… for the ecosystem…
—for all; and, thus, I believe:
It’s giving a gift to all the world;
and what is more in the Christmas spirit than that?
So, all different kinds of paper, (and this includes Christmas Cards; and don’t forget Hanukah Cards, Kwanza Cards, and Chinese New Year’s cards too!), as well as cardboard and paperboard, as it turns out, can be accepted by most curbside recycling companies or definitely at their drop-off recycling centers in the cardboard bin. Is there anything else? Why, yes, there is!
People should know that there are places other than recycling centers that will collect plastic bags. Supermarkets, chain and outlet stores (the Barnes and Noble by my house has a bin for plastic bags in their front foyer now), as well as the YMCA all collect plastic bags to be recycled. They sometimes take different types, so it is best to consult the following resource:
EARTH911... That is, unless you have curbside recycling and someone comes right to your house to help you make a difference (first make sure your recycling company can accept plastic bags [many can now!]). And remember, it is also important to re-use things: Because plastic bags are very durable, they can and should be used more than once.
You don't think Santa throws out his magic bag for all the children's toys every year, does he?
There Are Just 3 More Things We Need To Do...
To Make This Year The Most Eco-Friendly Holiday Season In History!
Some Things You Might Not Think 2 Recycle:
Your Old Electronics (including stereos, DVD players, Television Sets [tube TVs especially], mp3 players, laptops, etc.) can all be recycled if you drop them off at a collection facility. When we get these special, new-technology-driven presents to replace the old ones this year, let’s make sure we dispose of the old ones in the correct manner.
Contact your Local Authority on Waste Management (Refuse and Garbage Collection) and they will inform you of the Recycling Company that services your area. They usually have a hotline where people are standing by to give you assistance in your recycling efforts. They will tell you where the nearest spot is where you can drop off those old TV sets or other outdated electronics (and they take them in for free, because they can salvage the plastic and metal components and sell them for a small profit to pay for the overhead). If you just stuff them in your large trashcan, the materials will sit in a landfill for a thousand years or more doing nothing but taking up space. Give them new life instead!
Christmas Trees can be Recycled too!
When I spoke with DSWA they also encouraged me to recycle my Christmas Tree; and I assume that other natural holiday decorations like pine branches and holly will be happily collected as well. They informed me of several sites in my area where they are allowing people to drop off Christmas Trees (free of charge), because they can use the wood chips for various purposes: Mulch; Wood Chips; Particle Board; Paper Pulp, etc. So, save a tree —out there somewhere in the rainforest, waiting to find out if it will be cut down or not (which depends solely on the demand for paper pulp!)—this Holiday Season by recycling your own Christmas Tree and giving a little something back to nature… after all ... the tree was taken from nature in the first place, right? ;) Lastly, we come to the juice:
If batteries are thrown away improperly—just put in the regular trash—they get taken to a landfill where, over time, they begin to corrode and then leak out their erosive acids. The problem with this is that it is nearly impossible to make a landfill completely leak-proof, so the acid eventually leaks all the way through small cracks in the underground barrier and finds it way into the water supply. If you do not want to be responsible for poisoning people’s drinking water, then I suggest you store all your old batteries in a safe place until it is time to bring them all in to a recycling station... not knowing where to find one is no longer an excuse, because Earth911.com has an extensive database of locations which will accept any type of hazardous substance for safe collection and recycling!
Just go to the link and enter your zip code and you will find all the local centers near you:
Earth911.com is their homepage and the link is http://search.earth911.com/
So, my final conclusion is this: It’s all about give and receive. Nature provides us with these gifts, and it is only right to give back what we can. And I believe that it is becoming easier than ever to do so, because so many people are out there working to do this service for the earth (&4EO); so we should do our part, over the holidays, by recycling whatever we can.
If you need more information about Holiday Recycling or the Author, please visit Gettingoutside.com or contact him at email@example.com