As the holiday season is in full swing, so is the massive pileup of consumerism happening under my Christmas tree. Though we are paring down it feels like we could handle “go time” now, with plenty of evenly-distributed presents ready to build a present hill before each boy. Try as we might, there will be new “stuff” everywhere and as they say, “out with the old, in with the new.” It is hard to look at the neatly wrapped presents with matching paper and coordinating bows without thinking of where the new items will end up, and not just what’s inside but also all of that packaging.
Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of trash and recycling that is instantly created once mom and dad begin the task of unboxing all of those toys? As any parent can attest, screwdrivers of all sorts and sizes are required, along with your best reading glasses and maybe a magnifying glass to unearth a toy from its box. In the end, cardboard, plastic straps, tabs, and tiny screws will end up in a pile, leaving you wondering if you should toss it in the garbage or sort it in the recycling bins. As it sadly goes, much of our holiday glittery bows and ribbons will end up in a landfill as they are not considered recyclable materials.
We have eco friendly tips on handling your holiday trash this season that will set the tone for a more recycling conscious path in 2019. As people minimize their plastic consumption and band together to care about the state of our lands and oceans and the fragile ecosystems they nurture, it’s important to lessen our waste during this season of consumption. For starters, instead of yet another cardboard box covered in shiny wrap that cannot be recycled, how about getting creative with your gift-giving? A bandana full of fun hair trinkets is useful and fun and for your bakers, throw kitchen gadgets in a pretty pie plate wrapped in a kitchen towel. Nobody is going to miss the wrapping paper on that one. Other cool gift vessels include baseball caps to hold t-shirts, bathroom toiletries wrapped in a fresh towel, and plant pots full of seed packets, gardener’s gloves or hand salve. The possibilities for gift adornments that don’t impact the trash piles with unnecessary wrap the day after Christmas are limitless. But, as will undoubtedly happen, you will need to know what can be placed in the recycle bins and what needs to be tossed or disposed of in another manner.
Real Christmas trees: In Sarasota County, trees are picked up alongside your other garbage on your regularly scheduled pickup day. Trees are generally chipped and made into mulch so not much goes to waste there.
Artificial Christmas trees: If you’ve grown tired of your tree and wish to dispose of it this year, try donating to a non-profit first. If it really needs to go curbside, it is accepted through the county as a Furnishings and Appliance collection and can be picked up at no cost to you. You do have to call to make arrangements at (941) 355-9600.
Ribbons and Bows: Unfortunately, glittery ribbons and bows are not recyclable, but they are totally reusable. Grab a bag when the gift opening begins and toss bows and ribbons in there to be used throughout the year for birthdays and other events. You might need to add another piece of tape but think of the savings to the landfills and your pocketbooks. If they truly need to be disposed of, they are a garbage item, not recycling.
Cards: If they’re on recyclable paper, go ahead and add them to the bin, but many of the waxy and shiny papers need to be thrown away. Some people reuse the cards in craft projects and the same goes for your child’s classrooms and local art centers so try to donate before trashing them.
Christmas Lights: If the lights are in working order, consider dropping them off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Also, remember Christmas lights can add pizazz to any occasion and stringing them in a tree in your backyard is an inviting party year-round. But, if they must go, large hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes offer recycling programs for unwanted lights. They cannot be recycled in your normal bins so if they are simply unusable, contact Solid Waste website for collection instructions.
Photos courtesy of Repurposed Recycled Reused Reclaimed Restored Facebook page.