With 2022 quickly coming to an end, now is the perfect time to start fresh and adopt green habits to make for a “no waste” New Year. And while we know that local sustainability is an important issue year-round, it’s especially important to talk about now in light of a report from Pennsylvania Resources Council — a state and national leader in waste reduction and recycling — and PennEnvironment that finds Pennsylvania’s recycling and waste-management laws need updates, and we can do much more to ensure a healthy environment.
“The holiday season is a wonderful time to be together and celebrate with those you love, but unfortunately, it can also be an incredibly wasteful time of year that takes a harsh toll on our environment,” said PRC Executive Director Darren Spielman. “The New Year is the perfect time for us all to press pause, reset, and focus on simple ways we can make positive changes that reduce our environmental impact.”
To help minimize your environmental impact in 2023, PRC offers the following tips to strive for a no waste New Year:
1) TIME TO TOSS THE TREE…BUT DO IT RESPONSIBLY
Live Christmas trees are not only beautiful to look at and smell, but they are also a more sustainable option than artificial trees since they are biodegradable, meaning they won’t end up sitting in a landfill. Many communities offer residents free live Christmas tree recycling to make mulch, compost, and wood chips from the recycled trees. Discarded live trees can also be used as erosion barriers or feeders for fish and birds.
2) ZERO-WASTE GIFT WRAP IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The holidays may be over, but the giving season isn’t the only time we give gifts to people we love during the year! Traditional gift wrapping like printed paper, ribbons, bows, and plastic-lined bags can be incredibly wasteful and hard to recycle. Luckily, there are countless ways to beautifully wrap a gift using recycled, repurposed, and natural materials found around the home, including: recycled paper grocery bags, old newspapers, scrap fabric and scarves, tea towels, steel tins, canvas tote bags, and twine — just to name a few.
3) MAKE A RESOLUTION TO RECYCLE AND COMMITMENT TO COMPOST
Recycling and composting are small steps we can take that have a big impact on improving local sustainability and waste streams. You can perform a waste audit to see what you’re throwing away each week and use this resource to discover the proper way to dispose of it to avoid contamination or “wish-cycling.” Call the PRC-staffed PA Recycling Hotline at 800-346-4242, attend a waste reduction and recycling webinar, or watch this video for guidance. While it may be too chilly to sit outside, you can take part in a PRC “Backyard Composting” webinar from the comfort and convenience of your home before picking up your bin or barrel at PRC’s office in Allegheny County or Delaware County. LEARN MORE: Visit PRC – Conservation Workshops for a course description and schedule.
4) REDUCE YOUR WASTE WITH A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Speaking of resolutions, using a reusable water bottle is a great way to meet health and wellness related hydration goals and save money while limiting your plastic waste. With countless colors and patterns to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that you love and helps the environment.
5) REMEMBER THAT REUSABLE BAG!
Plastic bags may be convenient, but they are incredibly wasteful and difficult to recycle. Before you head out to shop post-holiday sales or tend to any unavoidable returns, don’t forget to grab a reusable bag or two. If you feel you’re forgetful, make sure to keep them by the front door or in your car. They only help if we remember to use them.
Having kids home for the holidays and enjoying winter break provides an opportunity to lead by example and get them involved in practicing lifelong environmental conservation and green skills. And once they head back to the classroom, they can take some of these new skills along with them.
“Winter break is a great time to engage kids and involve them in easy, everyday sustainability and waste-management practices,” said Diana Andrejczak, PRC Eastern Program Director. “Learning simple habits like at-home recycling and composting, how to pack a zero-waste lunch, and the importance of using a reusable water bottle can help your child create lifelong habits and improve our local communities and waste streams.”