Green Holidays

The EPA reports that the amount of residential waste in the United States generally increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. That’s a LOT of extra trash! Whatever you have to celebrate, we'd like to offer some tips to help you and your guests waste less this season. While we'd like to encourage you to accumulate less stuff, we know that sometimes it seems inevitable- so don't forget to take your reusable bags when you do go shopping!  And please remember the importance of donating old goods to charitable organizations; it's good for the environment and for the community.

Reduce, Reuse, Regift

Reduce Junk Mail. Overwhelmed with holiday catalogs you receive? Request to have your name/address removed from mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association
When possible, avoid single-use, disposable goods. Use reusable plates, cups, cutlery and napkins at your holiday gatherings; the disposable version of all those things are not recyclable. Have extra "takeout" containers ready so that food can go home with guests and not be wasted. Birds love leftovers too, so consider offering your extra cookies and cakes to wildlife rather than tossing them in the waste bin. And while slower in winter, composting still works wonderfully for extra salad, stuffing, fruitcake and much more. 

Donate not dispose. If you've been given things you don't need, or that replace items you already have, don't forget that your excess goods can do a world of good for others in our community. Goodwill, the Habitat ReStore, the Frederick Rescue Mission and others can keep your items in use and out of the disposal system.

Get crafty. Greeting cards are a lovely expression of the season; you can make them last longer by reusing them as gift tags, bookmarks, ornaments and holiday decorations. Check to see if your local school, retirement home or daycare center would like them for craft projects!

Gift Wrap

Ribbons and bows aren’t recyclable, some wrapping paper isn’t even made of paper, and even gift bags get thrown out eventually. So what’s a green-minded gift-giver to do? Think outside the box (and bag and bow and wrap…)! 

To create less waste- and add to the overall impact of your gift- get creative!  Why not wrap a present with a present?  Instead of paper, you could use a shirt, scarf, bandana or blanket to conceal your offering. It’s pretty and practical too. Instead of ribbons and bows, a tree ornament, small toy or just about other reusable trinket can be decoratively affixed to a box. These become small, fun additions to your gift.

Fabric also makes great, "green" gift wrap- and can be reused for years!  If you really want to get fancy, take a look at the Japanese art of furoshiki. According to this age-old practice, how you present a package is a symbolic gesture that expresses how you feel about the recipient. We think it also expresses how you feel about the environment. And it’s just as fun to unwrap!

If you love the look of bows, remember that if every household reused just two feet of ribbon, it would save more than 43,000 miles of material- enough to wrap around the entire Earth!

Gift Alternatives

One way to really reduce waste is share moments rather than objects. Perhaps you might give the gift of an experience (concerts tickets, an ice-skating trip, a class, a theater show, a day off together, etc.). Or you may consider making a contribution to a charitable organization on the name of a friend or loved one. Sometimes doing something for someone is the most valuable gift of all; an offer to shovel snow, fix something, clean, cook, do garden work, babysit or run errands could be much appreciated. And of course, there are always gift cards, which require little or no packaging and ensure that the recipient gets something they truly want.

Rechargeable Batteries

So many gadgets, toys and things that keep our households safe, on-time and connected to the world need to be powered, but what’s the best way to keep these devices going now without creating waste later? Rechargeable batteries!
Pre-charged or low-self-discharge batteries hold their charge when not in use for up to three years and then recharge effectively to their original full power level. (This also means that they are charged and ready-to-go when you buy them, so what could be better for a stocking stuffer?)

Rechargeable batteries are good for thousands of uses, but when they finally wear out some day, they can be recycled; to find a drop off box near you, look here:, or, bring them to one of our biannual Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off events.
Did you know? Since around 1997, household batteries have been manufactured so as to be safe for regular disposal?  Standard alkaline batteries do not have to be brought to a hazardous waste drop-off.

Recycle Right!

Help your guests know which bin to place something in by printing our free Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays recycling posters! 
Place in a recycling cart: empty popcorn and cookie tins, paper party hats, standard wrapping paper, boxes, greeting cards, jelly jars, champagne bottles, eggnog cartons, empty glass candle jars, and all the usual paper, plastic, glass, and metal packaging materials

Do NOT place in a recycling cart: artificial Christmas trees, ribbon or bows, metallic or plastic wrapping paper, glittery greeting cards, broken ornaments, Christmas lights, batteries, electronics, toys, ceramic coffee mugs or drinking glasses, plastic plates and cutlery, disposable hot or cold drink cups, "Styrofoam" packing materials, trash bags, and please, no fruit cakes.

The following materials can be recycled at the landfill's recycling drop-off facilities:

Electronics: If you've gotten new gadgets, some of your old electronics can be recycled for a standard fee; this includes: computers and all peripherals (keyboards, mice, etc.), printers, faxes, cell phones, digital cameras, digital music players, DVD/Blueray/VHS players, telephones, radio/stereo equipment and up to 10 televisions and/or monitors per resident per year.

Foam: Sprucing up for guests? Some soft foam materials are recyclable too, including old foam pillows or foam mattresses, “egg crate” or memory foam mattress toppers and carpet padding.

Bulky Rigid Plastics: Too many toys? Don't forget how easy it is to drop off items that can still be used at any of the six local Goodwill stores or the more than a dozen local drop-off bins. Worn-out large plastic toys, such as play houses or big wheels, can be recycled at our bulky rigid plastics drop-off bin.

Scrap Metal: This program accepts appliances and any object made predominantly of metal, such as: stoves, refrigerators, pots & pans, filing cabinets, shelving, barbecue grills and bicycles