As we celebrate, decorate, give gifts and travel this holiday season, we also generate a lot of waste and increase our energy use. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the volume of household waste in this country increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; that amounts to around one million extra tons of garbage! “There are some simple things we can all do to green the holiday season,” said Paul Braasch, Director of the Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District. “It takes only a small amount of time to reduce, recycle, and reuse materials. This will, in turn, protect our environment.”
Braasch recommends reusing or recycling greeting cards, gift wrap, and gift bags. Recyclables can be taken to one of the forty recycling drop-off locations found at www.oeq.net/recycle.aspx. “When you go shopping take a reusable bag with you,” he said. “Instead of getting a bunch of little plastic bags, put your purchases into your cloth bag.” The EPA estimates that thousands of plastic and paper bags wind up in landfills each year. “When you are wrapping presents, consider using items you have around the house, like old maps, posters, even the Sunday comics,” said Braasch, who adds that ribbons and bows should be saved to reuse next year.If you need to purchase additional lights, consider Energy Star energy efficient lighting. The EPA estimates that these types of lights use 1/50th of the electricity of conventional lights and last up to 30 years! “I’d also recommend putting your lights on a timer or turn them on only when someone is home to conserve power,” said Braasch. If your electronics get updated this holiday season, old electronics such as cell phones, e-readers, computers, monitors, and computer peripherals can be recycled at Staples. Staples is using a certified e-stewards recycler which means the company is certified to utilize responsible recycling practices to ensure environmental protection. Recycling electronics decreases the consumption of natural resources by extending the useful life of products and reusable parts, capturing valuable metals and plastics for reuse in new products, and keeping toxic materials out of landfills and incinerators.
After the holidays, numerous local communities are offering tree recycling opportunities. For a list of participating communities, revisit the Web site www.oeq.net at the end of December. Happy holidays!