Area residents can make holidays greener by reducing, reusing and recycling

Photo courtesy Clark County Public Health
Photo courtesy Clark County Public Health

Households in Clark County toss out up to 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day

VANCOUVER – Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach encourages the community to celebrate the holidays by taking thoughtful steps to reduce waste, reuse and recycle.

Households in Clark County toss out up to 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. What’s an extra trash bag filled with holiday food waste, gift wrap and packaging? Each week up to 250 shipping containers full of garbage are barged up the Columbia River to the landfill. The additional holiday waste means even more trash-filled shipping containers are sent to the landfill. But by taking a few simple steps to reduce, reuse and recycle, the holiday season can be a little greener.

Whether your celebrations with family and friends are large or small, these tips can help you to reduce waste:

  • Prepare for holiday meals by taking stock of what’s already in your pantry and using what you have on hand. To avoid over-buying food, use the “Guest-imator” online tool to help determine how much food you need based on the size of your dinner party. Make to-go plates for guests and freeze leftovers in portions for easy meals.
  • Cut down on disposables when hosting gatherings. Paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic cutlery end up in the landfill.
  • Simplify gift giving to children with the popular “want, need, wear, read” strategy.  Focus on four gifts: something they’ve been eyeing, something they need for learning, clubs or sports, clothing that expresses their style, and books, comics or magazines that speak to their interests.
  • Purchase local experiences like horseback riding lessons, a brewery tour or musical performances, or recycled goods from farmers market vendors. Offer gifts of time such as babysitting, handywork around the home or yard, or dog walking. Another thoughtful option is making a charitable donation in the recipient’s name to a local nonprofit, community organization or cause.
  • Think durable when selecting gifts. It may cost more upfront, but the longer an item lasts, the less often it will need to be replaced.
  • Visit a local thrift store, or vintage or consignment shop to find unique clothing or home furniture and decor.
  • Give gifts in reusable bags that can be used for shopping or next year’s gift giving. 
  • Consider giving gifts that don’t require batteries. If they do, provide reusable batteries.
  • Recycle old electronic gadgets and string lights that no longer work. Drop-off locations can be found at Donate unwanted electronics and string lights that still work.

For more holiday waste-reduction tips, visit the Clark County Green Neighbors website.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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