The Christmas season is a time for giving and with all those gifts comes an overwhelming amount of garbage by the end of the month. Wrapping paper, decorations and leftover food is filling up landfills. Cara Thomas talked to a local recycling center about how to go green during the holidays.
UTICA, N.Y. -- In just a few days, all those presents that were neatly wrapped and placed under the tree will be opened. Torn up wrapping paper will cover the floor and empty boxes will be piled high.
Andrew Massoud says his family recycles wrapping paper year after year.
“We always save the wrapping paper and I always save the gift bags, as well as the tissue paper. You never know when you’re going to need it,” Massoud said.
While Brian Cossette says they usually through theirs away.
“Get out a bag, really separate it all out. There’s wrapping paper, there’s cardboard and then put it all away for the garbage man,” Cossette said.
Jamie Tuttle from the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority says during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Years, an additional one million tons of trash per week is added to landfills. That’s about four million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags alone per year.
Tuttle said, "It's just a matter of thinking, taking that one second to think before throwing something away. Is this recyclable? Can I reuse it?"
Throughout the year, items like gift boxes, greeting cards, catalogues and shopping bags can all be recycled. And for the two weeks following Christmas, recycling centers are also accepting wrapping paper.
"We want you to take the wrapping paper and flatten it and push it down in your recycling container. We don't want it to be balled up and it can't be in a plastic bag," said Tuttle.
What can't be recycled? Foil wrapping paper, ribbons, garland, packing peanuts and Styrofoam, to name a few. But instead of just tossing them away, recycling centers urge people to consider reusing these items numerous times.
Tuttle said, "Everything you're able to reuse or recycle is diverted from our landfill, so we're not only saving landfill space, but by putting things in your recycling bin, these items are used to make brand new things.”
Now recycling is easier than ever. Everything can go in the same bin. And the sorting can all be left up to the professionals.
The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority is also able to recycle Christmas lights and trees this year. Those items cannot be placed in the recycling bins. People should bring them to the Authority's Utica Convenience Station.