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"Pre-Cycle" to Trim Down on Holiday Trash in Illinois

PHOTO: The trash generated by the average American household jumps by 25 percent during the holidays, but with some planning before shopping, that doesn't have to be the case. Photo credit: Jane M. Sawyer/morguefile.
PHOTO: The trash generated by the average American household jumps by 25 percent during the holidays, but with some planning before shopping, that doesn't have to be the case. Photo credit: Jane M. Sawyer/morguefile.
December 10, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The end-of-year holidays aren't just a time filled with more cheer, but also are a time filled with more trash - although some simple tips can help keep that to a minimum.

Wynne Coplea, president of the Illinois Recycling Association, said the best way to cut down on the garbage generated is through what's known as "pre-cycling" and thinking ahead before purchasing a gift.

"Is it useful? Is it going to last a long time? Is it durable? And if it is something that's really for short-term use, can it be recycled later? That's pre-cyling," she said, " thinking ahead of time about what you buy, reducing the amount of waste associated with it."

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Coplea said, the average household produces about 25 percent more waste than normal.

When it comes to wrapping paper and greeting cards, Coplea said, much of it can be recycled. What's even better, she added, is putting gifts in something reusable.

"I certainly reuse the gift bags that people give me if they're still in good shape," she said. "And cloth bags for things like a wine bottle or a kid's gift - you can give them a cloth bag with a drawstring top to maybe carry their gym shoes in, or something like that."

For those who have live Christmas trees, Coplea said, many communities will have post-holiday recycling programs for their disposal.

"It can easily be turned into either wood mulch, or they will sometimes even compost it," she said. "There are a few places still that will accept live trees, and they dump it into lakes, and it becomes habitat for breeding fish."

She also noted that old garlands should be donated or go into the trash, not the recycling bin, and the same is true for strands of Christmas lights.

More information is online at illinoisrecycles.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL