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Question of the Week: How will you handle holiday waste?

2008 December 29

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

One of the “gifts of the season” we usually overlook is the amount of STUFF we have left over – food scraps, dead batteries, old fir trees, and more.  But most of these things can be recycled or reused in some way, or at least disposed of properly.

How will you handle holiday waste?

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83 Responses leave one →
  1. Recycle Raccoon permalink
    December 30, 2008

    There are also private companies that recycle textiles. USA’gain is popular in the Wisconsin area. They reuse what can be reused and recycle or make rags with what can not be reused. Their website is but I am sure if you google textile recycling you can find other options in your area.

  2. Recycle Raccoon permalink
    December 30, 2008

    Make sure metallic wrapping paper is accepted for recycling in your community. Some recycling facilities (like ours in Waukesha, WI) don’t have markets for that type of paper. It is much more difficult to recycle traditional wrapping paper than ‘regular’ paper. If your wrapping paper feels like a grocery store paper bag & isn’t coated then it is for sure recyclable. Consider reuse options if you can’t recycle it. I have a list of 12 ideas at my blog,

  3. Recycle Raccoon permalink
    December 30, 2008

    Everyone has such great ideas. We really focused on waste reduction this year through using creative wrapping that was not disposable or part of the gift, reusing cards for gift tags, etc. Everything we could compost or recycle we did. This way the natural resources are not sitting in a landfill or no longer usable due to incineration.

    To save energy we encouraged carpooling as much as possible. We also only turned on holiday lights (both inside and outside) when we were “using” them. For example, we only left our outside lights on when we were entertaining and for a few hours each night around the holiday, as opposed to the day they went up.

    I think the biggest commonality between a lot of the posts here is that the best way to handle holiday waste is to plan for it. With a little thinking ahead it is very easy to reduce the amount of waste we generate and purchase things with less packaging and things that are recyclable.

  4. zeke permalink
    December 30, 2008

    Well, first, I intend to run 20 miles a week. Then I’ll bike an extra 50 miles a week. Finally, I’m going to spend at least one hour a day in the weight room..

    Oh…… you said “waste!” :)

  5. Druz permalink
    December 30, 2008

    I am blessed to live in a community that, 25 years ago, had the foresight to implement a waste-to-energy (WTE) program. All my solid waste goes into the can at the curb, is picked up by normal waste haulers, and transported directly to the WTE plant, where it is incinerated; the heat of incineration makes steam that spins a turbine generator. When I turn on my lights I reap the rewards of this process; recycling in its purest, most cost effective and environmentally sound sense…no source separation, emission-spewing multiple curb pickups, and recycled material processes, transportation, and marketability issues to deal with.

  6. P & S permalink
    December 30, 2008

    Well I first want to believe in our justice system, to see if one of the biggest contributors towards toxic waste pollution will be served justice.

  7. Maria Rodriguez permalink
    December 30, 2008

    I am happy to report that this Christmas I was able to do ALL my Christmas shopping without taking a plastic or paper bag from the store. I always carried my own cloth bags and asked the clerks to please put the things I bought and the receipt in the bag. I have been doing this for a number of years with groceries, but this year I was able to do it for clothing, shoes and toys (all gifts that would normally go in a bag). I also did not buy any Christmas wrapping as I was able to use what was left over from last year. Gift bags are great because they are reusable. Also, where appropriate, I donated money to Heifer Corporation, instead of giving co-workers token gifts that they don’t need.

  8. Leigh permalink
    December 31, 2008

    I use to post all my unwanted items. You will be surprised at all the items people will take off your hands. Old blankets and clothes may make nice pet bedding. For things that are of value, I sell them on Yahoo’s Tag Sale. Both sites are free to post and buy.

  9. Sharon permalink
    December 31, 2008

    We bought no tree. We reused our small artificial tree. We bought no gifts. We made gifts (family liked it better). We will reuse our Christmas cards, reusing them with our card making kit. We even make our own envelops, it’s so easy and fun. We recycled all kinds of things and made wonderful gifts. Now our family wants to join us and make this a FAMILY tradition. Nothing is thrown away because there is always something you can do with it: Old wrapping paper used for packing, old boxes reused for shipping, old ribbon cut and reused for card making, old glassware reused for food gift baskets. We even used pine cones and other natural resources we picked up around our house and made wreath center pieces with hurricane glass and candles.

  10. Honey permalink
    December 31, 2008

    (1) Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, i will avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils,
    (2) Buy ice creams in a cone instead of a cup.

  11. Jass permalink
    December 31, 2008

    How do you recycle all of boxes and plastic?????……………………?

  12. abhishek bane permalink
    January 1, 2009

    first of all seperate all plastics, metal cans everythimg that is non-biodigradable,if possible dump in recycle dustbins,all green wastes or biodigradables use for composting type treatment,if food is leftover, fed to beggers,animals, or to needfull peoples, Also clean lawns, trees or surroundings as it was before,all wet wastes to be drain properly in gutters,

    I advice to all cummunities peoples that please stop using plastics,thermocols, or avoid to buy all thing that are non biodigradble, we are forcing very slowly towards self destruction, by letting to accumulate these things in nature.


  13. Bridget B Green permalink
    January 1, 2009

    No place to recycle batteries near you? Maybe at the nearest fire department?

  14. Bridget B Green permalink
    January 1, 2009

    I save the cards we recieve and use them for next years tags or ornaments.

  15. arty permalink
    January 1, 2009

    No recycling. the Obama recession put me out of work so there was the artificial tree and no presents means no wrapping waste. I can’t wait until cap and trade destroys what is left of the economy because then my children and grandchildren wont be able to work either. I always wanted them to have a life of leisure. CO2 and cap and trade will ensure that.

  16. arty permalink
    January 1, 2009

    OH. I guess no smoke comes out of the smokestack when they run those steam generators, huh?

  17. Mikey8ball permalink
    January 2, 2009

    The starting point is to minimize waste creation in the first place. I start by giving donations to non-profits/charitables in the name of the intended gift recipient. Most of my friends really appreciate that approach and there is really no waste. I encourage this among my friends as well. For those who insist on material gifts, I ask that they use recycled materials. Thereafter I participate in San Francisco’s recycling program and composting program. Xmas trees, while compostable, are not taken. However, there is a program where trees are taken to Golden Gate Park to be chipped and used for cover – VERY green.

  18. Julyone permalink
    January 4, 2009

    We could build a recycling as a patriotic activity. We could build patriotism & pride. Every American, man, woman, child and grandmothers in nursing homes, could participate to conserve energy, natural resources and to provide jobs for many levels of workers. It seems America should be building processing and manufacturing plants for recycled goods. What percentage of Americans have access to any recycling service? currently recycling is at a standstill because of the economy.

    Will we miss this opportunity too???

  19. Deb permalink
    January 5, 2009

    I live in PA in a very small community where recycling is voluntary. Recycling bins are set up in a local shopping center parking lot. I’m proud to say that there is usually several people dropping items off when I get there and many times the bins are full. Could we do better…YES! I will be happy when we have curb side recycling.

    My Christmas tree is outside next to some other trees so the birds can use it for protection over the winter.

    Leftovers were placed in containers and sent home with my guests.

    My family could do better with the wrapping paper…next year, gift bags only.

  20. Cheri Land permalink
    January 5, 2009

    As with everyday, I put all biodegradables into my cardboard box for the next garbage collection. Anything that is NOT biodegradable or eventually be toxic I try to put into my recycling box. I am stuck with a few things including my hearing aid batteries which are small, but multiply rather quickly. There still seems to be no solution as to what to do with them.

  21. Linda permalink
    January 5, 2009

    You might check with your local Home Depot or Lowes store; most if not all of them will accept batteries for recycling.

  22. Christy T permalink
    January 5, 2009

    glad I do not live next door to you. Like many people, I have developed fairly severe asthma in adulthood, I assume in part because of the overall “load” in the air. For the last several years I lived next door to someone who smoked meat in her back yard; I could often not open my windows. I frankly didn’t know there were still areas which condone public burning of waste, whether small towns or large cities.

  23. Christy T permalink
    January 5, 2009

    I live in Cleveland, and persistent googling did NOT turn up any companies which recycle textiles. The listings I got made me wonder whether the markets for recycled textiles are all non- USA. If anyone at the EPA monitors this forum it would be really good to know how to recycle textiles. I was moving and took all that I could to recycle, goodwill, freecycled anything worthwhile, but could not find anything to do with textile waste. (stuff too ripped, worn stained etc for Goodwill or Salvation Army.)

  24. Michelle permalink
    January 7, 2009

    You can check your with your nature center and see if they want your dead christmas tree. When I was in elementery school we got to make shelters out of christmas trees; it was alot of fun. You can also recycle that wrapping paper! If you really try you can recycle just about everything you don’t want anymore.

  25. Giles cavey permalink
    September 24, 2009

    There are ways to maintain your Christmas tree to keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Using the tree for firewood in my opinion is the best solution.

  26. liza permalink
    November 5, 2009

    How to handle waste from “gifts of the season”?.
    I prefer not to wrap with plastic, use paper to wrap it instead.

  27. Brad permalink
    December 11, 2009

    I will most likely though the holiday waste out. I will separate what needs to be recycled from what doesn’t and throw everything out. Thats what I usually do with waste. Nothing festive about holiday waste.

  28. There permalink
    December 16, 2009

    throw your- plastic BAGS ,old computer,TV ,Car, Trucks…etc… into the nearest Volcano and all will be gone forever…

  29. kin permalink
    March 24, 2010

    I save the cards we receive and use them for next years tags or ornaments.

  30. james kayna permalink
    August 13, 2010

    Hi, I agree whit this

    I prefer not to wrap with plastic, use paper to wrap it instead.

    I am stuck with a few things including my hearing aid batteries which are small, but multiply rather quickly. There still seems to be no solution as to what to do with them.

  31. chanel wallet permalink
    August 18, 2011

    Since they are synonymous with exclusivity, luxury and wealth, I understand why they need cost us so much. But is it desirable to spend such a huge amount of money?

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