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Going green with holiday cleanup

Gifts under the tree can mean mounds of trash once the presents are opened.

With the arrrival of the holiday season celebrations and gifts will be at the forefront of the festivities. Once all of the gifts are torn open, there are bound to be mounds of wrapping paper in each and every home, which can mean damaging waste for the environment.

Wrapping paper, boxes and ribbons tossed straight into the garbage can mean that pounds of added trash will end up in landfills across the country. According to the Clean Air Council, an additional five million tons of waste is generated during the holidays in the United States. Four million tons of that waste is wrapping paper and shopping bags. There are smarter solutions to dealing with holiday clean-up.

The first step is choosing environmentally responsible wrapping materials. Glossy, metallic or embellished wrapping paper may not be easily recycled -- or even recyclable at all. Instead, look for wrapping paper that is made from recycled materials and can, in turn, be recycled once more. Consider wrapping gifts in plain, brown mailing paper and decorate the outside with earth-friendly paints.

Next, nix the tissue paper inside of gift boxes. It doesn't really serve a functional purpose, except for further delaying the reveal of the gift inside. Tissue paper alone accounts for a lot of extra trash. Skipping it means a person will be saving money and the environment. Here are some other green cleanup tips.

•Designate a child or adult to gather the discarded wrapping materials and sort the piles into trash. Ribbons and bows can be reused, as can many gift boxes and bags.

•Shred paper items that are bound for the trash to reduce their volume and require fewer trash bags for transport.

•Find out if a shipping store will take foam peanuts and air-filled wraps to be recycled.

•Be sure to collect expired batteries and recycle them at a facility that does so.

•Christmas trees can be taken down and sent for mulching. Many communities collect trees after the season is over for this purpose.

Because there is bound to be some extra garbage during the holidays, individuals can take steps to curb trash in other aspects of their lives this time of the year. Some ideas include using cloth napkins and actual dishes and cutlery instead of disposable items. Before purchasing new gift paper, sort through last year's collection to see what items can be reused. Cutting the front off of holiday cards and using them as gift tags is another way to recycle.

Finally utilize the trailers placed around Price to recyle materials that the local Green Team is accepting. Those trailers are located at Sutherlands, by JB's in west Price and on the USU-CEU campus.

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