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Approximately 25 percent more waste – an extra 5 million tons – is generated during the holidays compared with the rest of the year.
But according to a recent national survey conducted online in October by Harris Interactive on behalf of Plastics Make it Possible, 86 percent of U.S. adults plan to reduce their impact on the environment over the holidays this year. Two out of three of those adults who know how they plan to reduce their impact on the environment over the holidays will do so by recycling the plastic shipping, mailing and packaging materials that protect the gifts they receive.
“Much of the waste we generate during the holidays is recyclable, so it’s exciting to hear that many Americans are planning to do their part to recycle more this holiday season,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “In addition, many consumers are going a step further by purchasing holiday gifts made from recycled materials.”
Plastics Make it Possible, an initiative sponsored by the plastics industries of the American Chemistry Council, offers this holiday how-to with 10 tips to make the season a bit greener.
- Waste not, want not. This holiday season, look for wrapping and shipping products made from recycled materials. When wrapping holiday presents, look for gift bags and bows made from recycled plastic. When shipping holiday gifts, use plastic bubble wrap, envelopes, plastic shipping tape and plastic air pillows that are made with recycled plastics.
- Boost your recycling IQ. Find out which plastics are accepted for recycling in your community and where. Recycling programs vary across the country, but most curbside programs collect plastic bottles. In addition to bottles, many communities recycle plastic containers such as yogurt cups, butter tubs, trays and lids. Earth911.com lets you search by ZIP code to find out what and where to recycle in your area. You can even download Earth911's iRecycle app to your smartphone and recycle on-the-go.
- Look for more bottles. Look beyond water and soda bottles. A bottle is any container with a neck or opening that's smaller than its base. Plastic bottles include egg nog and liquor bottles as well as milk jugs, beverage containers and bottles for salad dressing, oil and other condiments. Many food jars such as those for peanut butter and mayonnaise often are recyclable, plus bottles for shampoo, toiletries, laundry detergent and household cleaners.
- Don’t flip your lid. Remember to twist caps back on bottles before you recycle them. Recyclers want caps, too.
- Recycle your packing peanuts. More and more shippers are taking back packing peanuts for reuse or recycling. Check your local shipping store, FedEx or UPS to see if they participate. You can also check Earth911.com.
- Reuse, reuse, reuse! From wrapping to ribbons, boxes to packing peanuts, gather and save gift wrapping and packing materials for next year.
- Bring bags back. Most large grocery stores and some retailers (e.g., Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s) offer plastic bag drop-off programs for recycling used bags and product wraps. These bins are usually located at the front entrance or near checkout areas. Here’s a list of what to collect:
Retail bags (remove hard plastic or string handles)
Plastic air pillows and bubble wrap used in shipping
Plastic newspaper bags
Dry cleaning bags (remove paper and hangers)
Bread bags (with crumbs shaken out)
Plastic wraps from products such as paper towels, bathroom tissue, napkins, diapers and cases of soda
- Look beyond the kitchen. While many plastic bottles, bags and wraps come from the kitchen, don't forget to check the bathrooms and laundry room for shampoo, make-up, detergent and other bottles, as well as the plastic wrap used to package bathroom tissue and diapers.
- Don’t throw out the leftovers. Save lidded plastic food containers like butter tubs and sour cream containers as a free and easy way for holiday party guests to carry home leftovers. Plus, they can keep these items and reuse them again.
- Bridge the second generation gap. Remember that recycled plastics go on to become second generation products such as fleece jackets, fashionable handbags, winter gloves, cutting boards and new bottles and bags. For example, it takes only eight recycled plastic bottles to create a soft, new T-shirt, and many of your plastic bags are recycled into durable lumber for backyard decks and other home projects. While shopping this holiday season, look for innovative products made from recycled plastics.
For more tips and ideas on plastics reuse and recycling, as well as information on cool new products made from recycled plastics, visit www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Plastics Make it Possible from Oct. 7 to 11 among 2,699 adults.