Gift Giving: How to give without generating waste


Last updated 12/11/2019 at 3:17pm

Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage! This waste has been growing due to online shopping that results in more boxes and protective packaging in use. While recycling is part of the solution, we do need to find ways to reduce the waste. For many, shopping is an emotional experience and buying something when feeling bad may change that feeling but more often than not, the items we purchase do not give us joy. Human beings take joy from shared experiences with family and friends.

This holiday season, consider purchasing tickets to sports events, concerts, theatre shows or the movies. Take someone to dinner at a local restaurant or bundle up and go for a hike in a park or forest preserve. Host a game night, build ginger bread houses together or homemade personal pizzas.

Start a book club by reserving a room at the local library. There are opportunities year round to share yourself with your loved ones that don’t generate the waste of an unneeded over-packaged gift.

Holiday Wrapping Recycling Rules

Not all paper wrapping, envelopes and cards are recyclable. Please only place clean, dry paper-based items in the recycling cart. No metallic, plastic, satin, bows, ribbons, glitter infused or foil lined items.

These are contaminants and can render a 2,000 pound bale of paper non-marketable. When wrapping, be sure to use bags or decorative boxes that can be reused. Otherwise, stick to bright colors to make your gift stand out!

What happens to the curbside recyclables (2nd in series)

After the truck collects your recycling from the cart, it delivers it to a MRF (Material Recovery Facility) where it must be sorted. The materials collected from 1,000 homes are dumped by one truck onto a concrete floor where it is mixed with material from many other trucks and scooped into a conveyor to be sorted.

The driver of the front-loader will try to push large items that are not recyclable to the side or hand carry them off the floor. ‘

These may be large plastic toys or propane tanks. Many of these unwanted items can cause significant damage to sorting equipment or injury to personnel.

Glass is heavy and is dropped out of the mix first, as the conveyor rises three stories into the air. Shaker tables and other equipment are used to pull out large cardboard. There are people working to also pull the cardboard and to grab items that are not recyclable from the line.

Large items missed below and plastic bags are top contaminants.


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