With the holidays quickly approaching, now is a good time to remember the three “Rs”: reduce, reuse and recycle.
The order of these three are important, as reduce is the most important, followed by reuse, and then recycle.
Here are a few tips and ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle over the holidays.
Reducing waste during the holidays can seem like a daunting task, but it is definitely possible and quite easy.
Reducing can be done in a multitude of different ways. One way is to buy items in bulk. If you know you are going use a lot of an item, buy it in bulk rather than single-use products. You save both on packaging and money.
Gift experiences or donations to a charity, rather than physical gifts, is another way to reduce waste. Experiences can be a state park, a museum or a favorite place.
Reusing is something that can be done easily throughout the holidays. One way this can be done is simply using boxes you already have to pack gifts. This way they get reused at least one more time before they get recycled.
Another idea is to send leftover food back in unrecyclable plastics, for example, No. 5s. This ensures that these products get reused and don’t end up straight in the trash.
Shop used. People will appreciate whatever they get, and by purchasing gently used items you save money and give a one-of-a-kind gift.
You can also wrap gifts in newspaper or other material that you have on hand already, rather than buying new wrapping paper.
All of your items that you normally recycle can also be recycled during the holidays. This includes your cardboard and gift boxes, cards and envelopes, catalogs and magazines, glass containers, No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, and metal cans.
There are some holiday items that cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in the proper manner. This includes your stringed lights, garland and tinsel, and artificial trees, which should be placed in the non-burnable containers at the transfer station.
Wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, tissue paper, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, plastic air pillows and other packaging material must be separated from recyclables and placed with other bagged/burnable garbage.
Items such as electronics and rechargeable/button batteries must also be separated and may be brought to either of the transfer stations to be disposed of properly.
The holidays are also a time where a lot of food waste is generated, if you haven’t already, register for Hubbard County’s organics program, to divert your food waste from the landfill/incinerator.
If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org and have a happy holiday season!
Kalyn Kopacek is Hubbard County’s Minnesota GreenCorps volunteer.