Christmas trees can be turned into mulch. (Photo by sajephotography, Canva.)
From Thanksgiving to the New Year, Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash than any other time of year, according to the EPA . But the holiday season doesn’t have to be wasteful. For folks looking to sustainably close out the festivities, Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) Founder and Executive Director Peggy Ratcliffe has a few recommendations. Fish Paper Electrical Insulation
CHaRM is a permanent drop-off facility in Peoplestown, managed by nonprofit Live Thrive , that diverts household hazardous waste and other difficult-to-recycle items from metro’s landfills and water systems. To help local residents dispose of unwanted items in an eco-friendly manner, the nonprofit is hosting a holiday cleanup event from now until Jan. 21.
Ratcliffe also has some tips for sifting through and managing holiday waste:
If you don’t have the space or desire to hang onto the materials for the year, local thrift stores will welcome these items. In addition, some wrapping materials can be recycled or even composted. For example, wrapping paper that is 100 percent paper can be recycled, while metallic or glitter paper can only go to the landfill.
A guide for managing gift wrap materials. (Courtesy of CHaRM.)
If the holiday waste felt overwhelming this year, Ratcliffe has additional suggestions for managing it. Next gift-giving season, Ratcliffe encourages folks to take inventory of their belongings and find a second life for unused goods. Also, before purchasing gifts, consider the item’s full lifespan rather than getting caught in the rush of seasonal consumerism.
“[Think about] the bigger picture rather than instant gratification,” Ratcliffe said. “[Also consider] ‘What do I have that someone else can use?’ There is always someone else that can use what you have.”
Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at email@example.com.
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