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'The most wasteful time of the year:' How you can help make the holiday season more eco-friendly

Posted at 7:06 AM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 07:06:33-05

CLEVELAND — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most wasteful. Between holiday parties, decorations and gifts, Republic Services estimates Americans will generate 25% more waste than average starting back to Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. If you’re wondering, that’s 1,000 pounds of trash per household.

“All that different waste can have different implications, depending on which avenue it takes within the waste stream,” said Jeremy Walters, Community Relations Manager at Republic Services.

But there’s a way to cut down and become eco-friendlier this holiday season.

Walters says we can start with not recycling holiday goods that really belong in the trash. By doing so, strains the waste processing system and adds to the costs of processing your trash.

“That actually creates a whole new set of issues," he said.

Walters says it’s we could also lessen the load by not throwing out our holiday leftovers. He says keeping and reusing items, whether they’re recyclable or not, makes a big difference.

During the week following Christmas alone, Republic Services in Ohio sees about a 12% increase in trash and their crews already service nearly 80,000 homes per day.

“Keeping things out of the trash and out of recycling is the best thing that you can do,” said Walters.

The company suggests you save and reuse gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year. If you’re still shipping gifts, make shredded paper out of old newspapers and magazines or reuse last year’s bubble wrap and foam peanuts. You can also reuse wrapping paper. If not, think twice before you throw it out. Walters says anything with glitter or foil belongs in the trash.

“You got to keep all the fancy stuff out, and the best way to remember that is the fancier the wrapping paper, the less recyclable it is,” he said.

Aside from piling on waste, concerns about tossing out old devices remains. We’re told you should always keep your phone or tablets away from the recycling bin. The same goes for bubble wrap, holiday lights, batteries, food, clothes and shoes.

“If you know something still usable. Consider donating it to a second-hand store. Take your electronics back to electronics retailers for recycling,” Walters explained. “Let's just be mindful of the waste that we're creating this time of year.”

For more tips on how to properly recycle and discard trash, click here.

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