Water conservation

How much more waste do we produce at this time of year?


to play

With the holidays quickly approaching, donation season can turn into garbage season with the amount of garbage produced this time of year.

Jennifer Albero, Wicomico County Solid Waste Recycling Coordinator, knows full well that the waste has to go somewhere.

“We see a lot of cardboard and wrapping paper, old Christmas trees and old toys,” Albero said. “The number of recycled cardboard and paper products has increased over time. Christmas trees, as long as they are free of plastic or other materials, can be thrown into the mulch pile. “

According to Albero, even Christmas cards can be recycled as long as they don’t have added plastic or excessive glitter on the paper. Otherwise, it’s the trash can for those.

The process of starting recycling begins with cleaning the paper products so that they are free of contaminants. Then comes the baling process and shipping it to paper mills, where it will actually be recycled.

“It saves landfill space and greenhouse gases and creates jobs. For those who have seen the size of the landfill, this is the highest location in the county, and it doesn’t decrease anymore, ”Albero said.

Recycling issues: Your plastic recyclables are shipped overseas and unprocessed into shiny new products

Albero estimates that currently the American population generates 5 pounds of trash per day per person – and it ends up in local landfills. Worse yet, when it comes to plastics, some of them can even last over 500 years.

She suggested that people choose to donate old clothes and fix slightly broken toys rather than throwing them away and letting them reside in a landfill.

1 million tonnes of additional waste

The National Environmental Education Foundation estimates that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans produce 25% more waste than usual. The culprits tend to be the increased amounts of single-use wrapping paper, boxes and tapes.

This translates to 1 million tonnes of additional waste every week.

That includes 38,000 miles of ribbon, or enough to wrap around the globe, $ 11 billion in packaging materials, and 15 million used Christmas trees.

Local parades: Christmas parades in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware: when and where to get in the mood

The “landfill gas” becomes the by-product of all the waste when bacterial decomposition begins. Methane, one of the components of “landfill gas”, has an impact on climate change more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide. It is the second most common greenhouse gas in the United States by human activity.

Tips for reducing waste

Among the ways to ease the pressure, the National Environmental Education Foundation has suggested:

  • Give a gift that doesn’t need wrapping – an experience! Offer to take your friends or family on a trip on public land, or offer to pay the entrance fee to a national, state or local park that you know they would enjoy.
  • Each year, approximately 2.6 billion greeting cards are sold in the United States – enough to fill a 10-story football field. Instead of a traditional card, consider an electronic card or a phone call to friends and family.
  • When shopping for holiday foods, decorations, and gifts, use reusable shopping bags. These can be stronger than traditional single-use bags, protecting your purchases and reducing the amount of paper and plastic distributed by vendors.
  • For an eye-catching gift tag, cut out the front of any greeting cards you received the previous year. The decorative front of the card will embellish your gift and you can write the recipient’s name on the blank side.
  • Save on gift wrap by reusing intact pieces from the previous year, or by switching to a more durable material that you can use over and over again, like a fabric bag.
  • Once it’s time to wrap the decorations, set your Christmas tree aside for recycling. Many areas harvest trees in the first few weeks after Christmas for mulching and use for water conservation and weed control.