Dreaming of a Green Christmas - recycling at the holidays


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - While many hope for a white Christmas, the folks at the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority are hoping for a Green Christmas - Going Green, that is.

Organizing a green Christmas can take a little planning, but it will save both time and money in the long run. Americans create 25 million tons of waste every year during the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, but the majority of that can actually be recycled.

Everything from gift wrap to even your Christmas cards can be recycled and reused in some form. Each year there are 2.65 billion holiday cards sold in the United States - enough to a fill a football stadium field ten stories high.

So, rather than create all that waste in a landfill, recycling that paper is pretty easy, as well as environmentally friendly. All you need to do is place gift wrap, cards, catalogs, gift boxes, and other recyclable paper in a large, clear, plastic bag or a container specified by your recycling hauler, and set it out next to your other recyclables on recycling and trash pickup days. But remember - holiday wrapping paper will only be accepted during the two weeks after Christmas.

What can't you recycle?

*Metallic wrapping paper
*Metallic ribbon

It doesn't stop with paper, however. There's many other items that can be recycled once the holidays come to a close.

Cooking oil and kitchen grease can be recycled once the table is cleared from those big holiday meals. Just drop off the oil and grease from deep fryers at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Leland Ave in Utica, where they have a collection tank for the material. The material will then be collected, and gets recycled into animal food.

And that's not all - Christmas trees can also be recycled.

The only catch for recycling your Christmas tree is when you can do it. All you have to do is call your local municipality to see what the collection schedule is for Christmas trees, or bring your tree on down to the solid waste authority's Convenience Station in Utica during their normal business hours:

Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Christmas trees are accepted for recycling until January 31.

As for Christmas wreaths, those need to find their way to your regular garbage bin. Both real and artificial wreaths are held together with wire and plastic, so they cannot be safely composted.

If you want to go a step further to reduce waste, use only reusable decorations on your holiday tree and avoid items that are hard to remove, such as tinsel.

Some further holiday recycling tips:

*Give gifts made from recycled-content materials. Many polar fleece items and clothing are made from recycled plastic soda and water bottles.

*Purchase wrapping paper, gift boxes, gift bags, stationary and Christmas cards made from recycled paper with the highest post-consumer content you can find. With a little pre-cycling, waste reduction and property recycling of the materials generated, Christmas can be a little greener for everyone.

*Remove your name from unwanted catalog lists. The average American home receives more than 200 mail order catalogs each year - mostly at holiday time. Call the company's toll free number and ask that you be removed from their mailing list.

*If you want your name removed from mailing lists, you can write to Mail Preference Service; PO Box 643; Carmel, NY; 10512, which will remove your name from third-class mailing lists. However, if you go this route, you must send $1 check or money order to have your name removed.

*If you receive magazines and catalogs, please recycle them with your paper products.

*St. Jude's Ranch for Children accepts old Christmas Cards for recycling. They accept all cards which they cut and paste into new ones that they sell to raise money for their organization through the Born Again Card Recycling Program. They will accept cards from November 15 - February 28 at St. Jude's Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program; 100 St. Jude's Street; Boulder City, NV; 89005

*Save your holiday decorations to reuse next year.

*Donate decorations to local schools, churches, town offices, or non-profit organizations.

*Use natural ornaments such as pine cones, shells, dried flowers or berries to decorate with.

*If you send holiday cards, look for ones made of recycled paper.

*If you go shopping, bring your own tote bags and avoid coming home with an armload of plastic bags holding just one item.

*Avoid leaving Christmas lights on all night. Place them on an electric timer to switch off while you're sleeping.

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