Monday, December 22, 2008

Cut Christmas waste and make room for more joy

Twenty-five percent more waste is generated over Christmas than during any other time of the year. If you have children your excess household waste this time of year might be even higher, thanks to the excessive packaging of children’s toys. With that in mind I think this is a good time for some recycling reminders. If you work at it recycling can cut your household waste in half – any time of year.

Before the deluge begins think of a Christmas morning system. That way you won’t be as tempted to stuff every scrap of wrapping and packaging into garbage bags and toss it out the back door. We try to sort as we go, creating a few different piles, so we don’t have to deal with one big mound that’s a mixture of trash, recyclables and reusable ribbon, bags and paper. I’m not saying it’s a tidy process but it does the trick.

Remember that wrapping paper is not recyclable. Not much of it is reusable either, that’s why I think gift bags are such a great idea. They’re practically indestructible, come in every size imaginable and help keep last minute shoppers (or wrappers) from going off the deep end. Tuck your’s away to be reused next year.

Cardboard boxes and packaging, as long as they’re not soiled or waxed, can be recycled. Some boxes might be worth saving to reuse at another time. Flatten the boxes you’re going to recycle for easy storage.

On rigid plastic packaging, look for the recycling symbol with a number in the middle. Any plastic with a number between 1 and 7 can go in the blue bins. They’re few and far between on children’s toys but it’s still worth checking.

Don’t get lazy over the holidays when it comes to basic household recycling and composting. Sure it’s busy and there’ll be more of everything, but just set it aside and deal with it later if that’s what it takes to keep it from going in the trash. If you’re hosting a gathering and using disposable plates, buy paper plates and toss them in the compost bin for an easy clean up.

While you’re thinking about ways to reduce trash here’s another idea to help reduce your household stuff in general this time of year:

Each year before Christmas we put an empty box in our playroom and ask our children to fill it with toys to be given away. It takes a bit of coaxing to get the momentum going. But the box gets filled and together we deliver it to Romero House or The Salvation Army. But listen to this, after Christmas we put another box in the playroom and it gets filled almost without comment. You can try the same thing with your stuff too.

Christmas is a season of abundance in so many ways. Doing a little extra to reduce the trash can only make room for more joy. Enjoy the Holidays!
The blog was previously published in KV Style (

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