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Keeping the environment clean after the Chrismas holiday

Well, for the most part, it’s over.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Well, for the most part, it’s over. The presents have been unwrapped and the food has been eaten. And if you’re wondering what to do with the wrapping paper remnants and the Christmas tree, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is asking residents to think eco-friendly.

Statistically, Americans generate 25-percent more garbage over the Christmas holiday than any other time. That’s about 5 million tons of trash during the week of Christmas alone.

With the increasing cost of disposal, and ever-shrinking landfills, ODNR is asking Ohioans to make an effort in keeping the Earth a little greener.

How?

Market research shows the week following Christmas is just as busy for retail stores and shops as the week leading to the holiday. Most products are discounted after the holidays and savvy shoppers head out in full force to snag post-Christmas bargains. With the sales come more paper and plastic bags. The ODNR recommends shoppers to curb the increased usage of paper and plastic bags by consumers taking their own tote bags shopping with them. By bringing their own bags, shoppers can reduce, or even eliminate, the arm load of plastic and paper sacks they bring home.

Another eco-friendly move shoppers can make is purchasing recyclable wrapping paper. Shiny foil wrapping paper may be pretty, but it can’t be recycled. Wrapping paper can be avoided altogether, the ODNR points out, by using sheets of Sunday comics or glossy magazine pages to wrap packages. Holiday gift bags are also becoming increasingly popular and offer an attractive wrapping, which can be reused.

What about the plethora of Christmas cards? How about recycling Christmas cards into next year’s Christmas postcards by cutting off the card fronts.

Postcards take up less room in mailbags and are cheaper to mail.

Or, Christmas card fronts can be sent to St. Jude’s Research Hospital for recycling. Christmas card fronts can be mailed to: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude St., Boulder City, Nev. 89005-1618.

Live cut Christmas trees can also be recycled in several environmentally friendly ways. The ODNR recommends recycling trees into landscape mulch, compost or wildlife habitat to prolong their usefulness beyond the holiday decorations.

Trees can also be weighted and submerged in farm ponds, providing cover for fish and amphibians. All trimmings should be removed from the tree before recycling. It is important to seek landowner permission before recycling a tree on private property and individuals should check with officials before recycling on public property.

Catalogues are another form of increased recyclable products generated during the Christmas season. The average home receives 200 mail order catalogues, with most of them coming during the Christmas season, proving to be a bane for not only post office employees but to the environment as well.

The ODNR recommends consumers have their name removed from catalogue mailing lists if they no longer wish to receive the mailing. In order to do that, consumers must call the toll-free number and ask for their name to be removed from the list. Consumers can also write to the Direct Marketing Association at P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735-9008 to have their name removed from third-class mailing lists.

By taking steps to reduce and reuse materials, the ODNR hopes to make Ohio a little greener over the years and make Christmas a environmentally friendly holiday.