What to do with all your vacation waste “Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building


The holiday season is filled with social events with family, friends and co-workers. This whole celebration is not only difficult for the size, but also for the environment. So after all that time sipping candy cane cocktails, wrapping gifts, and dipping strawberries in the chocolate fountain, be sure to reduce, reuse, and recycle along the way.

Conscientious purchasing

Waste begins with the purchase. If you’re in charge of the event or have an influence over it, start by finding party supplies that don’t waste much. Rent plates and glassware or use the real things in your home instead of single-use disposables. When it comes to food and drink, buy glass or metal containers as much as possible. Better yet, make your own juices with an electric or manual juicer. Watch out for copious plastic wrapped around food, gifts, and decorations, and refuse to purchase items filled with foam plastic (Styrofoam).

Related: Need Green Holiday Gifts For Your Friends? We have what you need.

Compost unwanted leftovers

With good planning, you can minimize food waste, but there will always be some to eliminate. As you scrape plates after a big meal or when throwing away the seeds of your peppers and the skins of your onions, remember that the compost pile likes all vegetable waste. You can also add undyed paper towel rolls and napkins and brown paper bags.

Recycle where you can

Recycling is a delicate industry. Some materials are widely accepted in almost all markets. For example, glass, cardboard and metal can usually be recycled at the curb or at a collection facility. Plastic is more location specific. However, most recycling services accept large cans. Others may take smaller containers like those used for yogurt, salsa, and sour cream. Again, since only about 10% of plastic is actually recycled, your most eco-friendly choice is to make these foods from scratch and do everything you can to avoid plastic at the purchasing level.

Another sticking point is holiday wraps and knots. Most paper-only packaging can be recycled, while anything with glitter and other finishes cannot. To minimize waste, use regular wrapping paper and real tape that you can reuse for years to come. Bonus points for using jute or other natural materials. At the end of your gift-unwrapping frenzy, sort out the ribbons and bows from the tissue paper and wrapping paper. Crush all the boxes and recycle them with paper.

Identifying which items can be recycled in your area is only part of the task. The next step is to make sure you are recycling properly. For example, all items, including food containers, should be clean and dry before being thrown into the bin. Food scraps can actually pollute the entire recycling chain, meaning that undamaged cardboard and paper may need to be removed and thrown away if soiled. Likewise, keep small items out of recycling. While caps can technically be the right materials for recycling, they can jam machines and cause big problems during processing, so make sure they’re attached to the container rather than left loose.

Items that cannot be recycled at the curb include lights, ribbons, electronics, bubble wrap and cellophane, as well as wrapping paper, cards and gift bags which are any other material. than the base paper.

Other materials

If plastic foam arrives on the scene, search your community for places that recycle it. You may need to pay a few dollars for the service.

If your street lights are garbage, check community collection events rather than throwing them in the trash. These events are commonplace in home improvement stores.

Electronic devices can be donated to a local recycling center or mailed to an electronic waste recycler. Some department stores recycle household batteries. Check with Lowe’s if you have one in your area. Other batteries are often accepted at the recycling center, such as car batteries.

Plastic film like that used for Ziploc storage bags, shopping bags and as shrink wrap around toilet paper and paper towels can be collected and deposited at selected locations. Log in to see which stores in your area offer the service. Also watch out when you enter grocery stores as there is often a drop box near the entrance.

If you live in a state with a drink bottle, be sure to keep it separate from other debris. Provide an easy drop-off point for your guests and return them for recycling after the party. If your state still hasn’t adopted this practice, write to your state representative to affirm the idea, and then be sure to properly recycle each glass, aluminum, and plastic container.

Make a stack of donations

If you don’t plan on saving unused holiday bags and wrapping paper, put them in the donation pile. Also include any in good working order items that you replaced during the holiday season. This could be kitchen utensils, clothing, tools, electronics, or bedding, for example.

What about your tree?

If you have a tree alive this year, you can keep it in a pot and move it outside for planting in the spring. If you’ve cut a tree down for the season, be sure to recycle it responsibly. Most of the city’s yard waste recycling companies offer pickup for most trees in the weeks after Christmas. It is an easy repair. All you need to do is remove all ornaments and lights and drag them to the sidewalk on pickup day. Also make sure to remove each strand of garland. Trees over eight feet tall may need to be cut. Avoid placing trees in plastic bags. Note that flocked trees cannot be recycled this way and will end up in the landfill.

Main image via Pexels


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