Go green, don’t be a Grinch – holiday waste reduction

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2019 4:57pm
  • Opinion
Hannah Scholes. COURTESY PHOTO

Hannah Scholes. COURTESY PHOTO

December is flush with potlucks, parties, and social gatherings of every imaginable sort.

While the gift-giving and good cheer can be contagious, so can the waste! Did you know that during the holidays, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash and waste 33 percent more food?

But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Grinch to be green during the holidays! There are a few things you can do to reduce waste from gifts, potlucks, and decorations this season.

When it comes to gifts, there are many ways to rethink and reduce. Try gifting experiences, rather than things, to avoid waste. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new with your loved ones, from wine tasting to a new restaurant, from a sporting event to a pottery class. The options are endless.

Whatever your gift, our No. 1 waste reduction tip is to wrap presents with re-used materials like newspaper or last year’s gift bags and bows. When you can’t reduce or reuse, make sure you Recycle Right! Almost all wrapping paper can be recycled. The exception is paper with a plastic coating or metallic finish. Bows and ribbons cannot be recycled, so save them for next year. If they’re not in reusable condition, toss them in the garbage.

Another way to go green during the holidays is to avoid food waste. Holiday feasts can lead to extra food, so ask dinner guests to bring a reusable container to take home leftovers. Freezing leftovers is also a great option. For food scraps that can’t be salvaged, make sure to put them in the food/yard waste cart so they can be composted.

Finally, remember to be environmentally conscious when it comes to holiday lights and decorations. As always, the first step is to reduce and reuse as much as possible! Get creative with a home-made wreath or ornaments. Buy energy-efficient LED light strands wired in parallel, so if one burns out, the others will still work, and you can avoid throwing away the whole strand.

Once it’s time to retire a strand of lights, dispose of them properly, which is to say, NOT in your recycling cart (this is important and worth repeating: holiday lights cannot be recycled in your curbside cart)! Light strands cause problems at recycling centers because they tangle around recycling equipment and create hazards for workers. However, some facilities offer holiday light recycling.

To find a list of locations in King County, visit KingCounty.gov and search “holiday light recycling.”

Here’s to a green holiday season filled with fun and good cheer!

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. Learn more about waste reduction at RecycleOftenRecycleRight.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Points of contention on police inquests in King County

Inquests frequently unfold against a backdrop of sadness and drama: Family members’… Continue reading

Guests gather to view a photo of Pilchuck Julia during the naming ceremony of the Snohomish River boat landing named for her in August, 2019. (Kevin Clark / Herald file photo)
Editorial: What history is owed through our monuments

The decisions regarding whom we honor in our public squares require deliberation and consensus.

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
The search for selfhood

What really matters is the desire to find.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Valley police chiefs of King County release unified message in response to death of George Floyd

Police chiefs of Des Moines, Tukwila, Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Black Diamond and the Port of Seattle pledge to stand with communities.

Pandemic illustrates the need for government action

Despite spending most of my life in government and politics and working… Continue reading

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Helping community organizations as we respond to the coronavirus

Now, more than ever, nonprofits need gifts of time and money