I’m super-busy right now trying to finish a few large projects so I can actually take a week off from writing. (I will still be editing and reporting, but that’s nothing as compared to the stress of staring at an empty page and a looming copy deadline.) That said, I am recycling, naturally, and using part of a December 2009 column to remind everyone that amid the excess of the season we should be thinking about how all our revelry impacts the Earth. And hey, I even added a few new tips, too!
Ever drive around on December 26? You’ll see bags and bags and BAGS of garbage. The amount of trash we produce grows exponentially during the holidays. What’s in most of those bags? Wrapping paper and cardboard packaging. But the front of your house doesn’t have to look like a trash heap since most of the stuff you throw out during the holidays can be recycled or composted.
Take wrapping paper. What’s it made of? Paper, of course. Paper like your old newspaper. Paper like the printer mistakes you recycle. Paper like your junk mail. You can recycle it by simply tossing it in with your regular paper recycling bin. The one exception: Foil wrapping paper, which should go into the regular trash.
There’s other waste, too. We open lots of cans of stuff, empty bottles of stuff, too. In the hustle and bustle of the day it might seem easier just to toss it in the trash. However, if you take the time today to bring your recycling bin into the garage (or place it outside the backdoor), it will be a lot easier to recycle and less tempting to trash.
And how about all the packing materials and cardboard you will inevitably find hanging around the house? Get rid of cardboard with your regular newspaper recycling. (Yes, all those doll and truck boxes, too!) Packing peanuts find a second life at places like Mail Boxes Etc. or the UPS Store. You can find the closest place that accepts them at the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s Web site.
Holiday food such as coffee grinds, fruit, unbuttered veggies, and bread can find a second life in your compost bin.
And what about the scads of plastic bags we generate around this time of the year? Take all the plastic bubble wrap, air wrap, plastic bags from toys and electronics — even dry cleaner bags and good old shopping bags — to a store like Lowes or CVS or your local supermarket where you can recycle them in the plastic bag recycling bins. Not sure where your local plastic bag recycling location is? Check out the American Chemistry Council’s Plasticbagrecycling.org.
And when the dust clears and you’re looking to get rid of your old electronics to make room for your new DVD player, smart phone, or PC? Please be kind to your fellow man and dispose of it properly since all of the above have heavy metals and all sorts of toxic, nasty substances inside. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s listing of resources online.