Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans generate an additional million tons of household waste beyond the amount usually created at other times of the year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's a massive 25 percent spike in waste that occurs like clockwork every year.
But responsibly disposing of your mounds of extra holiday waste this Christmas season is easy with the help of the La Porte County Solid Waste District.
“Most of that waste, such as packaging and boxes, greeting cards, used batteries and old electronics, can be recycled through the Solid Waste District’s various programs,” said Alicia Ebaugh, the District’s education and public outreach coordinator. “And many things can be reused, recyclable or not.”
Here’s a quick guide:
- Curbside recycling – You can recycle cardboard and paperboard boxes, plastic packaging and greeting cards. DO NOT RECYCLE Styrofoam packaging or peanuts, gift wrap or bows. Please take all plastic bags back to your local grocery store for recycling if you cannot reuse them.
- Used batteries and cell phones – Accepted year-round at 16 locations throughout the county, including Al’s Supermarkets, Kabelin Ace Hardware stores, and our office, 2857 W. State Road 2.
- Used electronics and Christmas lights – If you “upgraded” your TV, DVD player, video game system, computer or other electronic device this Christmas, recycle your old one at one of the District’s electronics recycling trailers. Christmas light strands are also accepted. The site at 1027 Hitchcock Road in Michigan City is open from 7 am to 3pm Monday through Friday, and the site at our office, 2857 W. State Road 2 in La Porte, is open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.
If your cell phones or electronic items still work, consider trying to find new homes for them instead of just throwing them out. Perhaps your local homeless shelter, church or a family in need could use them.
Live Christmas trees may be composted at our Zigler Road site, and our Westville Correctional Facility site after Jan. 2. They may also be picked up by your local trash hauler for composting. Check with them for details.
Look for ways to avoid creating waste during the holidays:
- Give the gift of an experience: music lessons, lessons for a new hobby, a massage, a trip to a state park, or tickets to a sporting event or play. This is perfect for friends who want to try something new but aren’t willing to spend the money on themselves. Plus, you don’t have to wrap the gift.
- Invest in your family and friends. Instead of giving a gift, contribute to a child’s savings account, education IRA or give them a U.S. Savings Bond.
- Give a monetary donation to a local charity in someone else’s name. Many people feel good knowing that they are helping out someone during the holidays.
- Keep it simple. One thoughtful gift is better than six wrapped packages of unwanted gifts.
- Rather than wrapping gifts for youngsters, hide the presents and turn Christmas into a treasure hunt.
- Create your own recyclable wrapping paper by using the Sunday comics, magazines and wrapping paper recovered from previous events.
- Reuse bags and boxes. Items like shredded wrapping paper, broken ornaments and greeting cards are even great for art projects.
- Recycle unwanted and duplicated gifts by promptly exchanging them or giving them to a local charity.