We all have some holiday habits that are less than environmentally-friendly, but a little effort on Christmas day can help decrease our overall holiday footprint. Americans create 25 percent more waste during the holidays, which means Christmas is one of the largest opportunities to recycle of the entire year. With all the paper, cardboard boxes, wrapping and packaging, this is our chance to do a lot of good, all at once.
Christmas morning is a beautiful chaos at many households. Children stampede, ribbons fly, paper crunches, cameras flash, an occasional toy is flung into the air and pine needles sprinkle from the tree. The gift-giving is followed by an exchange of thank you’s, smiles and batteries as children power up their new toys. Before long the spoils and remnants of Christmas are spread across every inch of the living room floor, and someone’s got to clean it up. Instead of leaving it to one or two people, turn it into a game that involves the entire family while recycling as much as possible. Here’s how.
Clean & Green Christmas Cleanup
Clean & Green Christmas Cleanup is the name of the game. The goal is to separate everything into three categories:
1. Saving (items such as cards, gifts etc.)
Break family and friends into three teams and assign a category to each. The team who collects all items within their category in the fastest time wins.
But wait! Speed means nothing if the wrong items are collected. Check each team’s collections to ensure all items belong. If items are misplaced or remain on the floor, the responsible team sacrifices their win. Here's a quick refresher on how to dispose holiday items.
Once everything is collected, you can give the winners a small prize and ask everyone to finish their task. The trash team should take the garbage to the cans in the garage. The recycling team should empty, crush and recap bottles, and flatten cardboard boxes. And the saving team should separate gifts and cards by the person who received them, and pack them into reusable bags to go home with each family member.
The entire thing shouldn’t take more than a half hour, and you’ll be free to enjoy the rest of your day with the cleanup out of the way and a good green feeling in your heart.
If you’re not looking to play a cleanup game, a little thinking ahead can be just as good. Before you begin to open presents, designate a box for recycling and a box for trash. As you unwrap, make sure all the packaging goes in the correct container.
And when the time comes to take down the tree, make sure you recycle that too! More information on preparing your tree for recycling can be found at www.rumpke.com.
About the author: Taylor Greely is the corporate communications assistant for Rumpke.