California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2009
Release #09-42


CIWMB Press Room Archives

Holiday Tips to Reduce Waste and a Green Resolution for 2010: State agency offers holiday-season suggestions to protect California’s environment

SACRAMENTO--The holiday season brings to mind images of family reunions, gift exchanges, religious celebrations, and home decorations in keeping with the spirit of the season. It doesn’t have to conjure up the image of tons of additional waste flowing into our nation’s landfills.

More household waste is produced between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of the year – about six million tons of added solid waste nationwide.

For the New Year, resolve to protect our environment by eliminating unnecessary waste and by reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Here are some simple resolutions you can make for 2010:

  • Use a reusable mug or cup: You can really cut back on waste by using a reusable coffee mug for that morning “cuppa joe.” Published estimates suggest 16 billion paper cups were thrown into the trash in the U.S. during 2006, resulting in 253 million pounds of additional waste. Paper cups are among the organic materials that can decompose in a landfill and generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Switching to a reusable coffee mug helps in the fight against climate change, too.
  • Keep a reusable grocery bag in your car trunk: Use a reusable shopping bag instead of single-use disposable plastic grocery bags. The Wall Street Journal estimates U.S. consumers use 100 billion single-use plastic bags every year. In California, they account for 300 million pounds of material that end up in landfills. When a clerk asks “Paper or Plastic?” say “Neither.”
  • Be the hit of the party: Hosting a New Year’s Eve party for friends? Start the new year out by reducing waste--with reusable silverware, plates, glasses, and napkins, instead of disposable products. Purchasing snacks or hors d’oeuvres in bulk also cuts down on packaging. But be careful about unused leftover food--the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at least 95 billion pounds of edible food, or about 27 percent of the U.S. food supply, end up being wasted every year in the United States.
  • Unclutter your closets: Consider donating your older, rarely used clothes to a charitable thrift store, or a homeless shelter, or a battered women’s center. And don’t forget to reuse those old hangers in your closet—roughly 85 percent of plastic hangers are not reused or recycled. Many dry cleaners and second-hand stores will gladly accept your old hangers, regardless of whether they’re made of metal, plastic, or wood.
  • How does your garden grow? Not everyone was born with a “green thumb.” But you can give your plants and vegetables a fighting chance by adding rich soil nutrients – and the easiest way of ensuring a steady supply is from a home compost pile. It’s a great way of dealing with all the extra fruit and vegetable peelings that pile up during holiday meal preparations. An added benefit: Less kitchen waste to toss away or stuff down the drain. The Board’s website has a comprehensive section devoted to information on developing and maintaining a backyard compost pile.
  • Out with the old … So, Santa came through for you and left a widescreen digital television under the Christmas tree. Now, do the right thing by recycling your old television set at a State-approved electronics waste collection center. It won’t cost you anything, and it will help keep all sorts of hazardous components from entering the landfill and contaminating the planet. Cell phones, computers, and DVD players are among the electronic devices that must be properly recycled and cannot be sent to California landfills.

The Board has a special website with additional holiday waste-reduction tips and information about recycling your Christmas tree.

The preceding press release came from the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). Beginning in January 2010, the functions of the CIWMB were taken over by CalRecycle. Visit CalRecycle's News Room at

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