Public Health offers tips for reducing, properly managing holiday waste

Clark County's Solid Waste Education and Outreach team urges residents to celebrate the holiday season sustainably by reducing waste and properly disposing of items, offering tips on minimizing food waste, using reusable dinnerware, thrifting holiday decor, and choosing eco-friendly gift wrapping alternatives.
Photo courtesy Clark County Green Neighbors

The holiday season often means more garbage and more types of waste

VANCOUVER – Clark County’s Solid Waste Education and Outreach team encourages the community to celebrate this holiday season by taking steps to reduce waste and properly dispose of items that cannot go in curbside garbage or recycling carts.

Reducing holiday waste

When planning gatherings with friends and family, these tips can help reduce waste and make the holiday season a little greener:

  • Holiday meals: Avoid over-buying at the grocery store by taking stock of what’s already available in the cupboards and using the “Guest-imator” online tool to determine how much food is needed based on the number of guests. Prevent food waste by making to-go plates for guests, using leftovers to create tasty new meals, and composting food scraps.
  • Table settings: Cut down on disposables when hosting gatherings and instead opt for reusable dinnerware. Paper plates, cups, napkins, and plastic cutlery end up in the landfill. 
  • Holiday decor: Rather than buying new holiday decor for upcoming celebrations, find new-to-you items at thrift stores, consignment shops, or online buy-nothing groups.
  • Gifts: Purchase experiences like horseback riding lessons or musical performances, memberships to museums, gift cards to local restaurants, or recycled goods from local vendors. And consider wrapping gifts in more sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper, such as recyclable newspaper, brown paper bags, or scarfs.

Disposing of holiday waste

The holiday season often means more garbage and more types of waste. Follow these tips to ensure proper disposal of items that cannot go in curbside garbage or recycling carts:

  • Batteries: Take batteries to designated disposal sites; do not place them in garbage or recycling carts. Several retail stores across Clark County now offer free battery disposal. To find locations, visit the Public Health website or download the RecycleRight app. Batteries that end up in household garbage or inside of recycling carts can explode and pose a significant fire risk. 
  • Block foam: To recycle block foam, drop it off at Earth Friendly Recycling in Vancouver or become a member of a subscription specialty recycling service, such as RecyclePlus or Ridwell. Block foam can also be placed in curbside garbage carts, but it cannot go in curbside recycling carts. 
  • Air pillows, bubble wrap, bubble mailers and plastic packaging: These plastic film products can be placed in bins for recycling at many local grocery stores and all three Clark County transfer stations. Plastic film cannot go in curbside recycling carts because it can get tangled in the machinery that sorts recyclables.
  • String lights: Holiday string lights can be taken to a specialty recycler or should be placed in the garbage. Find specialty recyclers at www.recyclingdoneright.com or on the RecycleRight app. Holiday string lights cannot go in curbside recycling carts. 
  • Gift wrap: Gift wrap with non-paper decorations, such as glitter, foil and plastic elements, should be placed in the garbage because the decorative pieces are not recyclable. Gift wrap that does not have glitter, foil or other non-paper decorations can be placed in curbside recycling carts. 

To find disposal options for hundreds of other items, visit www.recyclingdoneright.com or download the free RecycleRight app. For more holiday waste-reduction tips, visit the Clark County Green Neighbors website.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.


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