Reducing Holiday Waste

The "most wonder time of the year" is also the most wasteful.

By Mary Kuhlman

The end-of-year holidays aren't just a time filled with more cheer, but also are a time filled with more trash - although some simple tips can help keep that to a minimum.

Dan Goldblatt, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Health, said the best way to cut down on the garbage generated is through what's known as "pre-cycling," and thinking ahead before you purchase a gift.

"Look to see if it's made from material that has been recycled, and you can also see if it is recyclable," he said. "You can also look at the packaging and find out if that is made of material that can be recycled, as well."

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Goldblatt said, the average household produces about 25 percent more waste than normal.

When it comes to wrapping paper and greeting cards, Goldblatt said much of it can be recycled. If new electronics are on the gift list, he advised planning ahead for what to do with the old ones. By Indiana law, any retailer that sells electronics is required to accept them for recycling.

"So, your Best Buys, Home Depot, Walmart, Target - all those places are going to accept old electronics for recycling," he said. "We do encourage people to keep those out of the landfill and to get those recycled."

For those who have live Christmas trees, Goldblatt said many communities will have post-holiday recycling programs for their disposal.

"They will come by and take your tree and turn that into mulch," he said. "Some trees can be sunk into lakes and used for fish habitat, and some communities will even recycle the tree and use it in parks."

Old garlands should be donated or go into the trash, not the recycling bin, he said, and the same is true for strands of Christmas lights.

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