California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2012
For more information contact:
Media Contact: Heather Jones

CalRecycle Offers Holiday Waste Reduction Tips

SACRAMENTO--The holidays are upon us, and as we stroll through our neighborhoods we’ll see homes decorated with lights and lawn ornaments.

The week after Christmas, the same neighborhood streets will likely be decked with garbage bins spilling over with holiday waste--plus the occasional plumber’s truck in front of the home where the sink disposal couldn’t handle all the food discards.

It’s a wonderful time, but the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are also notable for high volumes of waste. More than 1 million tons of additional waste is generated each week nationwide during this time.

“There are many ways to cut waste during the holidays without cutting back on the festivity,” said Caroll Mortensen, director of the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). “A lot of waste-reduction measures are financially beneficial as well.”

CalRecycle proposes some new traditions to reduce holiday waste. Know you’re protecting the planet and teaching your kids about environmental stewardship when you celebrate using the following tips:

  • While you shop for groceries, consider that 13 percent of landfill waste is food waste. An estimated 33 million tons of food waste went to U.S. landfills in 2010. Try to be realistic when considering how much food you need to buy for that holiday dinner, rather than choosing to err on the side of plenty. Let’s be honest: If Uncle Fred doesn’t have the option of a second piece of pie, it might be for the best.
  • Use reusable bags on your shopping trips. It’s better to have visions of sugarplums in your head than visions of plastic bags swirling around in the ocean, or worse, being ingested by a giant sea turtle that mistook them for jellyfish.
  • Rechargeable batteries are truly a gift that keeps on giving to run those holiday toys and gadgets. Both rechargeable and single-use batteries are hazardous waste when discarded and cannot be thrown in the trash. The use of rechargeable batteries greatly reduces the amount of hazardous waste that can potentially harm the environment.
  • If you are the lucky recipient of a new television, computer, cell phone or other electronic gadget, make responsible plans for getting rid of the older one you’ll no longer be using. Many nonprofits will accept working cell phones and computers. If they don’t work, be sure to dispose of them safely, and remember it is illegal to throw them in the trash. See’s database for reuse and recycling drop-off locations for cell phones, e-waste, and batteries.
  • Donate old toys and clothing to a thrift store rather than throwing them away. Even if the clothes can no longer be worn, thrift stores will generally sell them to textile recyclers, where they may be recycled into rags, insulation, or other useful materials.
  • Rather than sending paper holiday cards through the mail, consider e-cards. Or, pick up the phone and wish your loved ones a happy holiday.
  • Wrapping paper generally ends up in the recycle bin, or worse, the garbage, right after Christmas. Consider gift bags or baskets, which can be used year after year, or a reusable bag that the recipient could use for grocery or drugstore runs.

For more ideas, please see CalRecycle’s Holiday Waste Reduction page. If you have ideas that are not listed, please share with us on our Facebook page.

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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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