Observer staff report
December 5th, 2013
Chittenden Solid Waste District provided seven ways Vermonters can reduce waste and keep green up their holidays.
Say no to artificial Christmas trees
The average artificial tree lasts 6 to 9 years but will remain in a landfill for centuries, according to CSWD. Artificial trees are also made with polyvinyl chloride, which often uses lead as a stabilizer, making it toxic to inhale if there is a fire.
Supporting local Christmas tree farms also keeps money in the area. North American Christmas tree farms employ more than 100,000 local people—80 percent of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China.
In addition, every acre of planted Christmas trees produces enough daily oxygen for 18 people. There are about 500,000 acres of Christmas trees growing in the U.S. Because of their hardiness, trees are usually planted where few other plants can grow, increasing soil stability and providing a refuge for wildlife.
Some locations also sell potted trees you can plant it in your yard after the holidays.
Avoid tinsel and spray on snow
Tinsel and spray-on snow can be a problem when it’s time to say goodbye to your tree. It’s nearly impossible to get it all off, and CSWD can accept natural trees for free recycling only if they are completely free of anything Mother Nature herself didn’t install. Otherwise, those nasty additives make that tree fit only for the landfill, at a fee of $1 per foot in height at CSWD drop-off centers.
Use recyclable or reusable wrapping paper
In Chittenden County, wrapping paper is recyclable unless it is printed with metallic inks or made of foil or plastic. The best material to use for wrap is something your recipient can reuse, such as a bandanna, a tea towel or a reusable cloth gift or shopping bag.
If you still want to use wrapping paper, complete the recycling loop by purchasing wrap made with recycled paper. Let your favorite retailer know you’re looking for it and they’ll know that there’s a demand for it.
Recycling tip: Speedy recycling starts on your living-room floor on the Big Day: Sort recyclable paper into your recycling bin (not in a plastic bag). Put trash—ribbons, plastic and metallic paper and wrappings—in a trash bag.
Use recyclable, reusable or biodegradable gift decorations
Ribbons and bows are no-nos. Most are made of plastic and cannot be recycled. A better option would be to tie on an ornament that can be used on your tree, a knick-knack that will be enjoyed for years or pinecones that can be composted or returned to the forest after use.
Save gifts that you aren’t quite thrilled with for someone who will appreciate them. If you can’t think of anyone you can pass it on to, bring it to a local charity or resale store, or a ReUse Zone at a CSWD Drop-Off Center and someone else will be glad to make use of it.
Don’t scrap your food scraps
After your big meal, keep your plate scrapings and prep scraps out of the trash and stash them instead. Bring scraps to CSWD drop-off centers or Green Mountain Compost and CSWD will use your scraps to make compost. Drop-off centers accept all types of food scraps: meat and bones, veggies, dairy products, egg and seafood shells—anything edible. And it’s free. Toss in greasy take-out pizza boxes as well. Stop by any drop-off center or Green Mountain Compost and CSWD will give you a kitchen counter-top pail to peel your carrots into, and a four-gallon bucket for bringing it in—all for free.
Remember: ‘The best things in life aren’t things’
Instead of giving an object, give an experience, such as a horseback-riding jaunt, skateboard lessons, movie tickets or a promise to spend time together doing something you know your recipient loves to do. An online tool called sokindregistry.org offers fun ways to make gifts more personal and timeless.