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Keep your holiday celebrations out of the landfill, all year round

By Clare Innes

Here’s a mashup of ideas for keeping your holiday spirit out of the landfill all year ’round:

Say NO! to artificial Christmas trees. Here’s why:

  • Think a real tree poses a greater fire hazard? Think again. Artificial trees are made with polyvinyl chloride, which is toxic to inhale if there is a fire
  • North American Christmas tree farms employ more than 100,000 local people; 80% of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured overseas.
  • Make a day of it and go to a local tree farm where you can cut your own, or purchase a potted tree and plant it in your yard after the holidays. You’ll also take home some sweet memories.
  • Tinsel and spray-on snow are nearly impossible to remove, and trees can be accepted for recycling only if they are completely free of anything Mother Nature herself didn’t install! Otherwise, those nasty additives make that tree fit only for the landfill.

Use recyclable or reusable wrapping paper for gifts.

In Chittenden County, wrapping paper is NOT recyclable if it is printed with metallic inks or made of foil or plastic. The best material to use is something your recipient can reuse, such as a bandanna, a tea towel, a reusable cloth gift or shopping bag … the possibilities are endless.

If you still want to use wrapping paper, complete the recycling loop by purchasing wrap made with recycled paper. Let your favorite retailer know you’re looking for it and they’ll know that there’s a demand for it.

Recycling tip: Speedy recycling starts on your living-room floor on the Big Day: Sort recyclable paper into your recycling bin (NOT in a plastic bag). Put trash — ribbons, plastic and metallic paper and wrappings — in a trash bag, and you’ll get ‘er done as you go!

Use recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable gift decorations.

Plastic and cloth ribbons and bows are big no-nos because they can’t be recycled. A better option is to tie on an ornament that can be used on your tree, a knick-knack that will be enjoyed for years, or pinecones that can be composted or returned to the forest after use.


Save gifts that aren’t quite what you need for someone who will appreciate them. If you can’t think of anyone you can pass it on to, bring it to a local charity or resale store, or a ReUse Zone at a CSWD Drop-Off Center, and someone else will be glad to make use of it.
Don’t scrap your food scraps.
After your big meal, keep your plate scrapings and prep scraps out of the trash and stash them instead in a FREE food scrap bucket available at all CSWD Drop-Off Centers and Green Mountain Compost. When the bucket is full, bring it in and we’ll use your scraps to make compost. We accept all types of food scraps: meat and bones, veggies, dairy products, and egg and seafood shells. And it’s FREE!

Remember: “The best things in life aren’t things.”

Give an experience, such as a horseback-riding jaunt, skateboard lessons, movie tickets, or a promise to spend time together doing something your recipient loves to do. An online tool called offers fun ways to make gifts more personal and timeless.

Clare Innes is the Marketing Coordinator, Chittenden Solid Waste District. E-mail:, Hotline: 872-8111.

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