The holidays are one of my favorite times of year with all of the extra time with family, delicious food, and extended breaks.
But during the holiday season, waste disposal can increase by as much as 25 percent causing an extra 5 billion pounds of waste into our landfills, according to the Medical University of South Carolina. By taking a few simple steps we can reduce our holiday waste:
Think “green” while shopping. Try to buy items with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content. Check product labels to determine an item’s recyclability and whether it is made from recycled materials.
Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so not only will save energy, but also will help your lights last longer. Leaving your holiday lights turned on 24 hours a day will quadruple the energy costs — and create four times the pollution as leaving them on for six hours.
Set your timer to turn the lights on at dusk and leave them on until you go to bed. You’ll be able to enjoy the lights all evening without burning energy overnight.
Thousands of paper and plastic shopping bags end up in landfills every year. Reduce the number of bags thrown out by bringing reusable cloth bags for holiday gift shopping. Tell store clerks you don’t need a bag for small or oversized purchases. Also, remember most stores offer plastic bag recycling, as well.
Decorate with natural materials. You can make beautiful holiday decorations with items found in nature.
A bowl of evergreen boughs and fresh fruit, a basket filled with fallen branches, winter berries and pine cones, and seasonal plants like poinsettias make inexpensive holiday décor.
Once the holidays are finished, your decorations can be added to the compost pile.
All of these tips are a great way to go green during the holiday season. You can also go green with the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District by recycling your Christmas tree, wrapping paper and cardboard boxes.
Live Christmas trees can be recycled at the Columbus/Bartholomew County Yard Waste Site located behind the Recycling Center at 720 S. Mapleton St. Christmas trees will be recycled into mulch, which is free for Bartholomew County Residents to pick up at the Yard Waste site.
Christmas trees need to be free of all decorations including tinsel, ornaments, lights, and stands. If you live within the city limits, trees can be placed curbside the day after your normal trash pickup without decorations, stands, and not in a bag. Trees will be accepted from Dec. 26 through Jan. 11.
Gift wrap will be accepted for recycling at the Columbus/Bartholomew County Recycling Center through Jan. 14. Gift wrap needs to be free of all ribbon and bows. No foil or shiny type paper will be accepted. Don’t forget you can recycle your cardboard and paperboard boxes from all of those gifts, too.
You can drop off your wrapping paper along with your other recyclables from 8 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday or from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday during normal drive thru recycling hours.
Please note BCSWMD facilities will be closed on the following dates:
BCSWMD Offices and Columbus/Bartholomew Recycling Center
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
New Year’s Eve — Dec. 31.
New Year’s Day — Jan. 1.
Bartholomew County Landfill
Christmas Eve — closes at 1 p.m.
New Year’s Day.
Heather Siesel is education coordinator for the Bartholomew County Solid Waste District. She can be reached at email@example.com or 376-2614. For information concerning these free educational programming offerings and resources, visit www.bcswmd.com under “Education.”