Around the holidays, Americans drive more, shop more and generate more waste. During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans produce an extra 1 million tons of trash per week.
However, it's easy to change a few habits and 'go green' for the holidays without turning into the Grinch. One way to cut a lot of waste is to put food scraps and food-soiled paper into your green yard debris cart.
Single-family residents in Bellevue who have yard debris service can recycle vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and filters, teabags, egg shells, paper towels, napkins, pizza boxes, bread, cheese, even meat and bones. Allied Waste Services collects yard and food waste at the curb, and the Cedar Grove Compost facility in Maple Valley turns it all into compost, sold at home and garden stores.
Bellevue Utilities’ surveys show that the percentage of single-family residents recycling food waste and food-soiled paper in with yard debris has gone from 12 percent in 2005 to 32 percent in 2007.
People are catching on and see food waste recycling as a good way to reduce what's going to the landfill. It can start with a pizza box and a few banana peels and before you know it, you have a whole bagful.
To get past the "ick" factor, residents can wrap smelly scraps such as meat and cheese in newspaper and put them in the freezer until collection day. Non-smelly items and food-soiled paper can be put in a large brown grocery bag lined with newspaper. When the bag’s full, it can go into the yard debris cart.
Another option is a food scrap bucket, available free to single-family Bellevue residents who have yard waste service from Allied Waste (call Utilities at 425-452-6932). The bucket can be lined with a small brown paper bag and soiled paper towels or approved compostable Bio-Bags, specially made for recycling food waste. Avoid plastic bags, which don't break down in the composting process.
Food waste recycling is just one thing people can do to go green for the holidays. Here are 10 more ways to be easier on the environment at holiday time:
- Wrap presents in road maps, posters, Sunday comics, fabric remnants or decorate a plain brown sack.
- Make gift tags from last year’s holiday cards.
- Give gift certificates, tickets, baked goods and other items that do not need additional wrapping.
- If you purchase gift wrap and cards, buy those that can be recycled.
- Foil paper, tissue paper and ribbon cannot be recycled.
- Reuse or recycle gift wrapping, ribbons, bags and boxes.
- Use reusable plates, cups, linens and utensils.
- Plan shopping in advance to cut back on fuel.
- Take tote bags when you go shopping to reduce paper and plastic grocery bags.
- Place easily identifiable recycling containers and signage at your celebration.
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