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Earth Friendly Holiday Tips From the Sustainability Committee

Post Date: 12/20/2018 7:00 PM

Dedham Sustainability Advisory Committee Earth Friendly Holiday Tips

During the holidays we consume more than ever. But we can choose to celebrate in a way that won’t be detrimental to our environment. With the recent crackdown on contaminated recycling by China, Dedham residents need to recycle smarter. China announced in July 2017 a policy that would ban certain types of solid waste, as well as set strict contamination limits on recyclables starting January 1, 2018. Why does this matter? China has for decades been the largest importer of the world’s waste. According to World Watch Institute, despite only representing 5% of the world population, the U.S. generates more waste than any other country. Yet we can make a difference. The Dedham Sustainability Advisory Committee is here to help with these easy 10 tips for an earth friendly holiday.

  1. As we dash in and out of stores don’t forget to bring your reusable totes – a single use plastic bag can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. Plastic bags also cannot be curbside recycled. However, they can be easily returned to most grocery and big box stores.
  2. Decking the halls – Christmas lights add magic to the holidays and with LED holiday lights you can have the best of both worlds – beautiful lights and an electric bill that doesn’t spike during the month of December. Dispose of broken Christmas lights in the trash – don’t put them in your curbside recycling bin! Holiday lights get tangled in the machinery and can cause it to break down or mail them to Christmas Light Source Recycling Program, 4313 Elmwood Drive, Benbrook, TX, 76116.
  3. Bows, glitter, ribbon, oh my! While pretty, they are not recyclable. The good news is that bows are one of the easiest Christmas items to re-use. Wrapping paper, unless glittery, velvet or metallic, can be recycled and most will have a recyclable symbol on it. Look for this when purchasing holiday paper this season.
  4. Online purchases make up to 9.1% of all U.S. retail sales, according to the Department of Commerce. Most items are now shipped in cardboard boxes, which is an easy material to recycle.
  5. Polystyrene – often called Styrofoam – which is used as protective packaging around electronics or as insulation, cannot be recycled curbside. The Sustainability Committee holds bi-annual recycling days for polystyrene and other hard to recycle items. If you can, store it until our spring recycling day.
  6. Electronics make popular holiday gifts but recycling outdated items can be tricky. Many stores will take back old TVs and offer in-store recycling, such as Best Buy.
  7. Did someone special update your wardrobe? If so, consider donating your gently warn items at one of the many third-party collection boxes around town or through Dedham’s new curbside recycling textile program. Proceeds from the white Baystate Textile boxes located at our schools support our public education.
  8. Celebratory holiday meals often create a good deal of compostable food waste. According to Recycle Across America food scraps make up 12% of municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. Let your winter food scraps help your summer harvest by composting them. Compost bins are still available for purchase through the Environmental Department. Contact Virginia LeClair, Environmental Coordinator at
  9. Environmentally friendly gift purchasing – the gift with the least amount of packaging and most amount of memories – are experiences. Experiences as gifts minimizes wrapping and shopping. Consider tickets to a game, concert or play, a membership to a museum, zoo or aquarium, trip or lessons of some type.
  10. Volunteer – get in the spirit of the holidays by volunteering with an environmental organization. The Dedham Sustainability Advisory Committee meets on the first Wednesday of every month in Town Hall at 7pm.
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