Editorial - Give a gift to environment over holidaysHere’s a gift you can give to the environment this holiday season: Don’t throw away as much stuff. Although the amount of trash being thrown away in Minnesota is on the rise again – which is a sign the state’s economy is growing – recycling rates have remained flat over the past 10 years, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Here’s a gift you can give to the environment this holiday season: Don’t throw away as much stuff.
Although the amount of trash being thrown away in Minnesota is on the rise again – which is a sign the state’s economy is growing – recycling rates have remained flat over the past 10 years, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
“The bad news is, a lot of recyclable materials are being tossed in the garbage,” said MPCA Supervisor Mark Rust. “Not recycling costs money. Last year, 1.2 million tons of recyclable material were thrown away, but could easily have been recycled for an estimated value of $285 million. Instead, it cost Minnesotans more than $200 million to throw it away.”
Recycling is not only good for the environment, it has significant economic benefits as well, Rust added. Recycling in Minnesota supports more than 37,000 jobs across the state, pays an estimated $1.96 billion in wages, and adds nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota’s economy.
From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, household waste increases by 25 percent. “The good news is there is a lot of potential to reduce waste and capture recyclables during the holiday season,” Rust said.
The MPCA offers the following tips to reduce and recycle waste during the holiday season:
• Bring a reusable shopping bag. In the U.S., consumers use 100 billion plastic bags annually, but only 5 percent of those bags get recycled. If you don’t have a reusable bag, take used plastic shopping bags to your grocer for recycling.
• Consider buying gifts made from recyclable materials or gifts that can be used over and over, such as reusable coffee mugs, rechargeable batteries, or more durable goods.
• Remember small businesses. A massage at a local spa or an oil change at a local auto shop are great gifts that generate virtually no waste.
• Recycle old holiday lights. The Recycling Association of Minnesota is sponsoring a holiday light collection now through the end of January. (Locally, residents can bring their old holiday lights to recycling bins at any District 206 school, Ace Hardware, Alexandria Light and Power and Runestone Electric.) Visit www.recycleminnesota.org for more information.
• If you’re getting new lights, consider LEDs, which use 80 percent less energy than standard lights.
• Help your guests recycle. Place clearly labeled recycling containers near trash containers at your holiday gatherings.
• Use reusable plates, napkins, cups and flatware. Inexpensive items can be found at local thrift stores. If you don’t want to store them, you can donate them back to the thrift store.
• Consider donating gently used items you no longer want or need. Your trash may be someone else’s treasure.
• Buy more environmentally friendly electronics. Look for Energy-Star-labeled products and use services like Epeat.net to find computers with the best environmental attributes. When you’re done with your electronic devices, make sure to recycle them.
• Reuse bows, ribbons and leftover wrapping paper that’s still in good condition. Better yet, wrap gifts in reusable bags or cloth and give loved ones the gift of reusable packaging.
• Compost food scraps. Leftover vegetable and fruit scraps can be composted in your backyard. Check whether your local hauler offers curbside composting.