News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2013
#2013-22
For more information contact:
Media Contact: Melinda Beer | opa@calrecycle.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO—It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are notorious for high volumes of waste. More than 1 million tons of additional waste is generated each week nationwide during this period.

“There are many festive ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle during the holiday season without cutting back on the good cheer,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “CalRecycle proposes some new traditions to reduce holiday waste that will help protect the planet and save money, while teaching our kids about environmental stewardship.”

If you dream of a green Christmas, celebrate using the following tips:

  • Precycle and freecycle before you hit the mall. Take an inventory of things you no longer use, and donate those old toys and clothing to a thrift store. Even if the clothes can no longer be worn, thrift stores will generally sell them to textile recyclers. Only got $20 in your pocket? A thrift shop is also a great place to find fantastic and unique Christmas gifts on the cheap. Frugal shopper Max Wong provides some great gift ideas.
  • Remember to bring reusable bags on your shopping trips.
  • Consider gift bags or baskets, which can be used year after year, or a reusable bag instead of wrapping paper. Feeling crafty? Earth911 has 11 clever, creative, and cheap ideas to make your gifts shine.
  • Rechargeable batteries are truly a gift that keeps on giving to run those holiday toys and gadgets. They greatly reduce the amount of hazardous waste that harms the environment when thrown away, which is not only naughty, but illegal. Visit CalRecycle for more information, including how to safely dispose of batteries.
  • If Santa deemed you nice and you scored a new flat-screen, tablet, smart phone, or other electronic gadget, make sure to responsibly e-cycle your old technology. 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 due to the toxic materials they contain. Check out eRecycle.org for reuse and recycling drop-off locations for cell phones, e-waste, and batteries.
  • Rather than mailing paper holiday cards, consider sending e-cards or an e-newsletter. CalRecycle really likes the social options that Mashable offers in its “four ways to replace Christmas cards with social media.”
  • Food for thought: Thirteen percent of landfill waste is food and an estimated 36 million tons of food waste went to U.S. landfills in 2011. Err on the side of Scrooge when crafting your menus – it’s good for the waist, and preventing waste.
  • Remember to treecycle! Christmas trees are commonly turned into mulch, or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths, and walkways. They can also be used for beachfront erosion prevention, lake and river shoreline stabilization, and fish and wildlife habitat. Ask your local Christmas tree grower about programs near you, check out CalRecycle’s page, or visit Earth 911 for additional information on Christmas tree recycling programs.
  • Make your New Year’s resolution to practice the “three Rs” every day: Reduce, reuse, and recycle!

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.