Earth-friendly holiday cleanup

Earth-friendly holiday cleanup

Giving and receiving holiday gifts is a real joy. Unfortunately, after the fact, you may realize all that gifting leaves a lot of trash; cardboard and plastic packaging and miles of gift wrap paper.

And how about the tree?

Here are few ideas for holiday clean-up without throwing it all in the trash.

One solution is to use your tree for wildlife. Even if you have a small lot, trees can be set in the back corner of your property. Wildlife can use it to hide from predators or harsh weather. You can also use it as a combination bird feeder and habitat hideaway. Make a garland of peanuts or popcorn or fruit and place it on the tree for the birds. 

All the wrapping, bows and plastic are another area where alternatives can be considered. Manufacturers are hearing consumers want less plastic in packaging, but there is still a lot of it. Recycling eliminates the need for virgin materials, thereby eliminating the need for a lot of mining and deforestation. This in turn has a direct impact on wildlife and saves energy, water and natural resources by recycling rather than mining, said Pamela Roach, president of the Connecticut Recycler’s Coalition. 

“Most of us know that we should first reduce, then reuse before recycling,” said Roach. “However, did you know there are actually eight ‘Rs’? They are Refuse, Reduce, Re-Use, Repair, Re-gift, Recover, Recycle—the first and foremost important ‘R’ is ‘Rethink.’ Be mindful of your consumption, your relationship with ‘things’ and your relationship with the earth,” Roach said.

An excellent online source of recycling information is The RecycleCT Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to support, educate and coordinate efforts to increase the amount of recycling in Connecticut.

For instance, if you are wondering whether bows and gift wrap paper can go in the recycle bin, RecycleCT has the answer. Those items can be upcycled and reused but cannot be recycled. It is the same with most gift bags, including those you received for wine gifting. Reuse but do not put into the recycle bin. If you get a present still in its shipping box with Styrofoam packing peanuts, try to reuse this for your own shipping needs or call the Plastic Loose Fill Council, a material reuse program. They have drop off centers. Contact them at 800-828-2214 to find the closest to you. If you received a new doll, hand drill, kitchen tool, or anything that has been packaged in a hard “clamshell” plastic cover, you can put it in the recycling bin. If you have Christmas tree decorations that you no longer want, use them in a craft project, gift to a family member, or throw them in the trash. Or if they’re still useful, consider donating to Goodwill.

For questions you might have on other, more ordinary, everyday recycling, check the Recycle Wizard at

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