By Richard Chesley, DHEC Recycling Program manager
The holidays. We do more, buy more, eat more. And, we throw away more.
Think about it. The food waste, shopping bags, packaging, ribbons and bows, wrapping paper and boxes – it all adds up. In fact, it’s estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash than any other time of the year.
In South Carolina, it is estimated that we dispose of nearly 960,000 tons of waste between November and the end of January – comprising 31 percent of the total waste disposed of in a year!
But it doesn’t have to be the most wasteful time of the year. The holidays are a perfect time to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Give more, waste less gift
Think about gifts that make memories, not waste. For example, you could give tickets to a game or concert, a membership to a gym or fitness classes, gift certificates for a massage or manicure, classes to learn a new hobby or even give some homemade cookies in a reusable tin.If something more tangible is on your list – Keep it simple. One thoughtful gift is better than too many that may become unwanted.
Let’s wrap it up (or not)
Who needs wrapping paper? Use a simple ribbon or bow for large gifts and try reusing old maps, blueprints, or pages from the Sunday comics for a unique and eco-friendly gift presentation they will love. Be sure to save reusable bows, boxes and bags for next year!
It’s in the cards
Consider sending e-cards rather than paper ones this year or look for recycled-content holiday postcards that will save you on postage and envelopes.
When the holidays are over, remember to recycle your Christmas tree. Call your local recycling coordinator or click here to learn where you can take your tree to be mulched or composted.
Make a grocery list, and check it twice
Did you know that food waste is the biggest contributor to landfills? Help reduce wasted food by buying only what you need, donating what you don’t and safely storing leftovers so you can get the most out of your meals. For the food waste you do generate, try composting – it’s a gift to your garden.
If we had just one thing on our holiday wish list, it would be to recycle during the holidays and throughout the year. It’s easy, it supports jobs and it helps keep South Carolina clean and beautiful. From empty green bean cans to drink bottles to tires and trees – click here to find what and where to recycle near you.
For more information about recycling and other solid waste management topics, please call the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348 or visit www.scdhec.gov/recycle.