Shutterstock image

Recycling Authority provides tips to be less wasteful for the holiday season

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published December 21, 2020


OAKLAND COUNTY — While it is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season can also be one of the most wasteful.

According to a press release from the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, the amount of waste generated increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

While many are thinking green trees and lights, RRRASOC is hoping the environment will also come to mind around the holidays.

“We live in a convenience oriented, consumer oriented society in general. It’s just sort of ingrained in us to not necessarily think about the impact of our purchasing and disposal habits,” RRRASOC General Manager Michael Csapo said.

Gifts are common around the holidays, but a lot of them result in waste. Instead of buying expensive items, here are some green alternatives to think about:

• Give homemade goodies like bread, jam, cookies and freezer meals.

• Give plants, trees or seeds for next year’s garden.

• Make yourself the gift  — for errands, chores, home repairs or babysitting.

• Send memberships to a spa, zoo or gym, or passes for state parks, public transportation or museums.

• Give experiences, like museum trips, event tickets, dinner out or IOU beach outings.

• Give water bottles, bamboo silverware, canvas bags, nature guides and items made from recycled materials.

When it comes to wrapping gifts, wrapping paper can be one of the most wasteful items, because it is used once and thrown away. Here are some alternatives to wrapping paper:

• Pages torn from magazines.

• Old maps.

• Newspaper comics.

• Reusable tins, baskets or bags.

• Tea towels or scarves.

• No wrapping paper at all.

There are also steps to take when receiving a gift that can help green up the holidays.

• Save tissue paper, gift bags and cards to reuse next year.

• Recycle wrapping paper that is free of glitter and metallic designs.

• Unwrap gifts carefully to reuse wrapping paper.

• Speak to the gift giver and ask for unwrapped gifts in the future.

There are also items that can cause confusion in terms of whether or not they can be recycled. RRRASOC has compiled a list of a few items that cannot be recycled.

• Plastic gift bags

• Tissue paper

• Cellophane

• Metallic paper

• Glitter paper

• Bows

• Ribbons

• Tape

• Electronics

• Batteries

• String lights

• Christmas trees

• Toys

• Ornaments

• Clothing

• Baskets

“I think people may not know what all is recyclable as far as packaging from their boxes and their gift wrap,” RRRASOC Education Specialist Saundra Porter said. “I think it is pretty important that folks know what can be recycled in order to save all that stuff from going into the landfill.”

For those who are unsure if an item is acceptable to recycle, RRRASOC has a recycling directory at, which informs people what can and can’t be recycled.

The recycling directory is accessible online and via a mobile app. The mobile app can be found in the App Store or Google Play under RRRASOC Recycling Authority.

“A big part of that is just to understand what the programs are in your individual community,” Csapo said. “Knowing what those alternatives are and knowing what the program guidelines are ahead of time can help inform the decisions you make as you’re out there making your point-of-purchase decisions.”