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Options for recycling this holiday season

According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, “Americans will increase their waste by an estimated 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That is one million extra tons of garbage a week. This includes 38,000 miles of ribbon (can encircle the earth and tie a bow), $18 million dollars in packaging, and 17 million Christmas trees.”

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), on Thanksgiving alone, 204 million pounds of turkey is thrown away. All this waste ends up in landfills and creates harmful methane gases that contribute to global warming.

So, what can we do? As we are thinking about the holidays, we can plan to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This can include simple things, like making sure things that can be recycled are recycled. For example, packaging (bubble wrap and boxes), electronics (cellphones, small appliances, televisions, computers, Christmas lights), batteries, and beverage containers can all be recycled in our community.

In Houghton County, bubble wrap can be taken to the Shipping Store or dropped off in the TREX bins at EconoFoods, the City Center, or Wadsworth on MTU campus. Boxes can be broken down and put in curbside recycling bins or taken to the Transfer Station. Electronics can be dropped off at Goodwill. Batteries can be taken to Remi battery. This is not all that can be recycled. To learn where other items can be recycled, check out the Material’s Wizard at www.recycle906.com.

Also, when you entertain, make it easy for guests to recycle by putting a labeled recycling bin by your trash can. Use non-disposable items like cloth napkins and dishes and send food home food home with guests or freeze to minimize food waste.

Another way to reduce is in thinking about gift giving. We often think of a gift as a tangible item, but consider giving gift cards, entertainment activities (movies, Mt. Ripley, Paint your own Pottery), subscriptions, memberships, time (snowshoeing, treating to a lunch, going to a movie). Look for second-hand gifts through Keweenaw Consignment or Goodwill. Give homemade gifts (seeds, jams/jellies) or gifts that repurposed another item (jeans turned into a purse). When wrapping use non-disposable items like ribbons and cloth bags or reuse wrapping paper or gift bags. Use newspaper or brown paper bags that can be recycled.

After the holidays are done, consider donating older toys or items to St. Vincent DePaul, Goodwill, the Habitat Reuse Store and/or the Angel Mission. Often there is a place for something we don’t want. It’s a matter of finding that new home for it.

It is difficult to avoid increased waste this time of year. However, being mindful of increased waste and intentional about managing this waste will make it possible to keep it in check. By making a plan, we can have a direct impact on caring for our Houghton County community.

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