Green alternatives for the holidays

March 21, 2008 10:48:19 AM PDT
More household waste is produced between Thanksgiving and New Year's than at any together time of the year, as much as six million additional tons of waste.

There's some do and don't when it comes to making that trash disappear with as little impact as possible on the environment.

When it comes to getting rid of holiday wrapping paper, the worst idea is to burn it.

The most dangerous offenders are foil or shiny paper products but even your basic colored wrapping paper does not belong in the fireplace.

Mark Ross is chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

"Wrapping paper when it burns doesn't combust completely, it releases heavy metals and other toxins along with just plain soot, none of which is good for you especially on a good Christmas day walk," said Ross.

Consider saving used wrapping for reuse next year or recycle it in the appropriate garbage collection bin.

The nearly two billion Christmas cards sent out each year can also take on a second life.

Colorful pictures can become bookmarks or gift tags for next year's presents.

"It's really about reducing, reusing, and recycling. It's those same rules that we've all grown up understanding but really take on a new importance during the holidays," said Brant Olson from the Rainforest Action Network.

San Francisco is even making it easy to recycle your cooking oil.

The city has established a collection center at the Costco store at Tenth and Harrison. From tomorrow until December 30th, the grease will be recycled for free.

"When your done frying your turkey and have no where to put it, this is the drop off point in San Francisco, bring it here and we'll collect the grease and turn it into bio fuel," said Tommy Moala from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Community collection programs have made it easy to recycle Christmas trees. Of the estimated 35 million tree sold in North America every year, approximately 93-percent of them are recycled. The mulch is then used along park trails, turned in packing material and used as compost for gardens.

For all of our holiday waste the good news is that recycling rates in the United States have almost doubled in the last 15 years. Nationwide, we now recycle about 32-percent of our trash.


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