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North Dakotans Can Reduce Holiday Waste with 'Pre-Cycling'

PHOTO: The trash generated by the average American household jumps by 25 percent during the holidays, but with some planning, that doesn't have to be the case. Photo credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr.
PHOTO: The trash generated by the average American household jumps by 25 percent during the holidays, but with some planning, that doesn't have to be the case. Photo credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr.
December 4, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. - The end-of-year holidays aren't just a time filled with more cheer, but a time filled with more trash, although some simple tips can help keep that to a minimum. The best way to cut down on the garbage generated over this time and year-round is what Leslie Irlbeck, program and outreach manager for Metro Waste Authority, says is "pre-cycling."

"When you're at the store and you're looking for gifts or you're looking for things to wrap those gifts, it's nice to keep in mind what will you do with it once it's served its purpose," she says. "Can it be reused? Can it be recycled? Or will it end up going to the landfill?"

Irlbeck says between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the average household produces about 25 percent more waste than normal.

When it comes to wrapping paper and greeting cards, Irlbeck says much of it can be recycled.

"You want the generic, plain old paper when you're looking for cards and wrapping paper, because those are the items that can be recycled," she says. "That means avoiding some of those fun, sparkly, metallic, glittered papers that, unfortunately, cannot be recycled."

Irlbeck also notes old garland should be donated or go into the trash, not the recycling bin, and the same is true for strands of Christmas lights.

"There are several mail-in programs and you can do a quick Google search to see what charities or places you can drop Christmas lights off to get recycled," Irlbeck says. "It's important they do not go in your recycling cart, because they get wrapped up in the equipment and do an enormous amount of damage."

For those who have live Christmas trees, drop-off or curbside recycling is often an option following the holidays.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND