Seasonís Greenings from the Recycle Guys!

During the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the nation’s trash increases by an extra one million tons per week! Opportunities abound for North Carolinians to ensure that family celebrations are safe, happy and not harmful to the environment. The N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance offers the following tips to help consumers reduce waste while enjoying the fun of the holiday season.Tree Guy



  • Don’t let the “Grease Goblin” spoil your holiday fun. To send him on his way be sure to place excess amounts of oil and grease from holiday cooking and cleaning in collection containers.

  • Scrape oil and grease off kitchen utensils and equipment, and keep grease out of wash water. Never pour oil and grease down the drain, and avoid using hot water to wash the grease away from substances.

  • With deep-fried turkey fast becoming a Southern tradition, the proper disposal of deep-fryer oil is essential. Be sure to pour or scrape the oil into cans or bottles and apply lids. Then dispose of it in your household garbage.

  • Avoid placing food scraps such as turkey bones, potato peels and celery down the drain. Potato peels swell when wet, blocking the drain, and celery strands can jam the blades of in-sink garbage disposals.

  • Compost your food waste. It’s easy and provides a wonderful natural fertilizer for next year’s garden.

  • Plan meals wisely and practice portion control. If faced with leftovers, place them in plastic containers and bags and send home with guests or save them for later.

  • Use reusable plates, cups and silverware instead of disposable ones.

  • Remember to recycle extra aluminum foil and cans that come with holiday feasts.

  • Give home-baked goodies in reusable holiday tins.

  • Recycle all beverage and food cans and bottles from your holiday gathering.


  • If a tree is part of your celebration, buy one that can be replanted in your yard. If you can’t replant your tree, compost it after the holidays along with wreaths and other live decorations. Contact your Local Recycling Office to find out how.

  • Consider buying a potted Norfolk pine, fig tree or indoor houseplant that can be used every holiday season as your evergreen tree.

  • Purchase a tree from a tree farm rather than cutting one down in the wild.

  • Use trimmed branches from your tree for decorating around your home or making wreaths.

  • Consider buying an artificial tree that can be reused every year. Remember, you’ll save a tree for every year that you reuse your artificial tree!

  • R-E-C-Y-C-L-E and that includes your Christmas tree! Contact your local recycling office to find out how to recycle your Christmas tree.

  • Decorate your tree with natural ornaments such as pinecones, dried flowers, nuts and fruits and Sweetgum spurs.

  • Use plants as part of your decorations. The poinsettia is a favorite at Christmas time. Keep it in a warm room next to a bright window. Instead of discarding the plant once it has faded, prune it back severely and place it in a shady place. Allow it to dry out. Start watering again in May and the plant should be ready for the next holiday season.

  • Use edible decorations on your tree and feed them to the birds after Christmas.

  • Reduce the number of lights on your tree as well as those decorating your home. Try to avoid leaving lights on all day. Use them only at night for maximum effect. Always switch off the tree lights before going to bed.

  • Consider replacing standard holiday lights with strings of LED lights. The benefits of LED lights include energy efficiency, safety, sturdiness and a long life span. 

  • Buy good quality decorations that will last. Store carefully after Christmas for use the following year.



  • Reuse wrapping and ribbon when possible, or purchase gift bags and easily recycled tissue paper as an alternative.

  • If you must buy paper, make sure it has recycled content.

  • Use reusable items such as hair bows, ornaments, shoelaces, toys or holiday corsages to decorate your packages.

  • Stencils or pictures from holiday cards pasted onto a plain brown paper bag or box adds a nice homemade touch.

  • Use last year’s holiday cards as gift tags.

  • Spices, such as bundled cinnamon sticks or cloves in a mesh cloth, add a wonderful element to your gift package.

  • Try reusable containers like baskets, tins, hatboxes or cloth bags. The wrapping will become a present in a present!

  • Take cardboard boxes and foam peanuts to an accepting mail depot or save them for sending your own packages.

  • Consider giving gifts without packaging, or maybe attach a real satin ribbon that can be used many times over.

  • Use scarves, handkerchiefs or bandannas to wrap a gift.

  • Use old posters and maps.

  • Have your child draw a picture on plain newsprint and use it to wrap a gift.

  • Newspapers (foreign newspapers add a cosmopolitan touch!)

  • Old sheet music.

  • Last year’s holiday paper (press with a warm iron if wrinkled).

  • Wallpaper scraps.

  • Sunday comic pages.

  • Travel section of the newspaper.

  • A cake pan, basket or wooden box.

  • Reusable decorative bags.

  • Fabric scraps.

  • Home-sewn cloth bags.

  • Make a “Hollywood box” by individually wrapping or decorating the top and bottom of a box with a separate lid. Encourage the recipient to reuse the box.

  • Use popcorn instead of foam peanuts and include a note explaining that birds can eat it.

  • Use biodegradable starch packing peanuts.

  • For larger gifts, use one large bow rather and save the wrapping paper for smaller gifts.



  • Make gift-giving more practical. Consider useful gifts that won’t end up in the attic or the back of the closet. Create family wish lists, not just what children want from Santa. Don’t feel pressured to give lots of gifts — save money and waste too!

  • Take your tote bags along on your shopping trip to avoid plastic and paper bags.

  • Do all your shopping in one trip. Save on gas and keep your stress to a minimum.

  • Remember to look for items made with recycled content and gifts that are minimally packaged. Wind chimes made from recycled glass are a great gift!

  • Remember to ask for gift receipts so that the gift will be able to be returned or exchanged.

  • Think durability! Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often, a cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable equivalent.

  • Give non-materialistic “green” gifts that do not require wrapping, such as gift certificates for massages, to restaurants, cooking classes, sailing lessons, etc. Theater, sporting event, concert or movie tickets are always appreciated. Experiences are remembered long after other presents wear out.

  • Give a gift of time or talent. Take someone to a play, concert or movie. Make gift certificates for a special dinner, pet sitting or house cleaning. Offer your talents at gardening, photography or financial planning — or better yet, teach someone a skill you possess such as knitting, woodworking or playing an instrument.

  • Another thoughtful alternative is making a charitable donation in the recipient’s name.

  • Make homemade gifts. Everyone appreciates homemade goodies!

  • Antiques and collectibles make excellent gifts and are environmentally friendly because they are recycled! Check out local markets and antique shops for some real bargains.

  • Plants make excellent presents and help to reduce indoor pollution. Herb-growing kits are also a great idea. Gardening equipment helps grow green thumbs.

  • Books are a wonderful gift that can be enjoyed more than once.

  • Use a digital camera instead of those that require film. That way you can delete the picture you don’t want and print only those you like.

  • Purchase rechargeable batteries.

  • For students on your list, buy a textbook needed for the next semester or a long-distance phone card.

  • Don’t forget to bring your own reusable tote bags when you go shopping!



  • Give a garden: seeds, gloves, tools and gardening book.

  • Give an experience: hot air balloon ride, a day trip on a train, massage or French lessons. Theater, sporting event, concert or movie tickets are always welcome.

  • Help someone recycle by buying a can-crusher, a compost bin or set of recycling containers.

  • Give gift certificates to minimize unneeded gifts.

  • Give a membership to a museum, environmental or other nonprofit organization.

  • Give a gift of time. For new parents, offer a free night of baby-sitting service or a diaper service for a month.

  • Reusable lunch bag and travel mug.

  • Refillable pens.

  • Energy-saving fluorescent light fixture or bulb. Compact fluorescents last longer and use 1/3 of the energy of an incandescent bulb.

  • 100 percent cotton dishtowels or sheets; look for unbleached cotton.

  • Cloth shopping bags.

  • Reusable food storage containers.

  • Cloth napkin and rings.

  • Houseplants.

  • Solar watch or calculator.

  • Reusable razor.

  • Programmable thermostat.

  • Bird feeder and seed.

  • Water-saving showerhead.

  • Bat roosting box — bats keep insect populations down.

  • Quilts and comforters for energy savings.

  • Shutoff timer for watering the lawn.

  • Stationary made from recycled paper.

  • Refurbish and give an old tricycle, bicycle or rocking chair.

  • Gift basket filled with non-toxic household cleaners.

  • Personalized “coupons” such as a night off from dish duty or “maid for a day.”

  • Durable hand tools.

  • A magazine subscription.

  • A ceiling fan.

  • Warm slippers, nightgown or pajamas.

  • Outdoor-light timer.

Battery Guys wishes you many happy returns!The Recycle Guys and your friends
at DPPEA wish you a safe, happy and
waste-free holiday season!



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Recycle Guys Home Page. This page was last modified on 10/29/2007.
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The “Recycle Guys” characters are provided courtesy of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control