California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2011
For more information contact:
Media Contact: Mark Oldfield

CalRecycle Offers Holiday Recycling and Waste Reduction Tips

SACRAMENTO--Californians fill the holiday season with family, friends and joy – and in many cases an increase in tidings that end up in the trash bin. The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has some ideas on how to keep the season bright and still keep your waste to a minimum.

“The holidays are an exciting time, but many consumers don’t realize how much waste is generated with packaging, wrapping, ribbons, and boxes,” said CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen. “We shouldn’t let the holiday season undo all of the tremendous strides Californians make the rest of the year to reduce waste and to recycle.”

The holiday shopping rush, which began immediately after Thanksgiving with “Black Friday” retailer specials, provides an important boost to the state and national economy. At the same time, however, it presents an additional recycling challenge, creating about one million extra tons of solid waste nationally each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To help Californians meet this recycling challenge, CalRecycle offers its Green Holidays webpage with practical ideas and online resources to help reduce waste while still celebrating the holidays in style. It also features links where residents can find convenient neighborhood locations to recycle products barred from California landfills, such as old televisions and computers, and used household batteries.

Tips suggested by CalRecycle include sending electronic greeting cards rather than disposable paper cards. As many as two billion holiday cards are mailed in the United States between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day each year, but the waste generated when those cards are tossed out after the holidays is enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. Find online card sites on CalRecycle’s list of ideas for making this holiday season green.

Other suggestions from CalRecycle:

  • By one estimate, if every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. In fact, enough package ribbon--38,000 miles worth--is thrown out each year to tie a bow around the Earth.
  • About 24 billion plastic bags end up in California’s landfills every year--and many of the bags that don’t make their way to a landfill end up as ocean debris or litter. This holiday season, choose reusable shopping bags rather than paper or plastic at the cash register. An attractive reusable bag can also double as a better alternative to a disposable gift bag.
  • Buying new electronics and cell phones? Be sure to dispose of those old ones safely by dropping them off at a certified electronics collector or recycler. The products may contain harmful metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium and are barred from California landfills. CalRecycle’s Green Holidays webpage provides links to find collection centers, as well as information on how to properly dispose of single-use batteries and burned-out holiday lights. Consider buying rechargeable batteries that can be used again and again.
  • Finally, if you’re going over the river and through the woods to a family holiday celebration, check your owner’s manual before getting an oil change. Many cars now can go 5,000 miles, 7,500 miles, or even more between oil changes, according to manufacturer recommendations, and by changing oil less frequently, Californians can protect their pocketbooks and our natural resources. Also be sure you’re driving on properly inflated tires with adequate tread depth. Proper tire inflation improves gas mileage and reduces fuel consumption, which means more money in your wallet and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

These are just a few ways to enjoy the holidays while maintaining the spirit of reduce, reuse, and recycle that helps make California a world leader in environmental awareness and action. CalRecycle encourages Californians to visit us on Facebook and share ideas on how to have a happy--and environmentally friendly--holiday season.


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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

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