Have a Green HolidayNov 01, 2022 08:10AM ● By Patrick McGee
While a white Christmas remains uncertain, a more ‘green’ season can be ensured with a proper plan for holiday buying and waste disposal. Here are some ways to reduce your carbon footprint going into the new year.
Christmas trees should be properly disposed of and recycled—not cluttering landfills. The City of Omaha provides numerous recycling drop-off points around town in December and January. During the 2021-2022 holiday season, the City collected 84.1 tons of cut trees, the bulk of which were put through wood chippers and turned into mulch.
Historically, drop-off sites have included: Tranquility Park, Henry Doorly Zoo, Orchard Park, F Street Football Field, Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, Kelly West Park, Wehrspann Lake, Bellevue Old Sarpy County Landfill, Papillion Fire Department, Papio Bay Aquatic Park Parking Lot, Walnut Creek Connector Trail, LaVista Sports Complex, Pierson/Orval Ballfields, and Hughes Mulch production. The 2022-23 dates and locations will be published on Wasteline.org, the website for Omaha’s solid waste program. Be sure to remove all nails, wires, ornaments, lights, rope, and plastic bags from trees before depositing.
As an alternative, Brent Crampton of Hillside Solutions said that its Compost Club members may drop off trees to its Soil Dynamics Yard in Downtown Omaha at no extra charge. Crampton explained, “You wouldn’t want your tree to end up in the landfill, as it’ll put off methane gas and shorten the lifespan of the landfill.” Visit hillside.solutions online for more information.
If you need help getting your tree to a recycling site, some troops with the Boy Scouts, Mid-America Council, sponsor tree recycling drives in the Omaha metro, picking up trees curbside for a small fee. The fees go to fund troop activities, so it’s a win-win for all. Go to mac-bsa.org for more information.
Tangled and broken holiday lights should be recycled rather than trashed. The lights can be recycled because of the small amount of copper within the wires. Scrap Central Inc. near 84th and Maple streets hosts an annual holiday lights recycling drive/fundraiser for local organizations in the Lincoln/Omaha metro area. In the past, proceeds from recycled lights have been donated to groups that serve educators and emergency responders. Visit scrapcentralrecycling.com for more info.
Buyers beware: much of the gift wrap sold in stores, particularly foil types and glossy varieties, is not recyclable. Gift wrappers wishing to recycle should only purchase non-glossy wrapping paper, or simply use newspaper or other paper that is acceptable for curbside recycling. Better yet, gifters should switch to reusable gift bags—either paper or vinyl—in lieu of one-use gift wraps.
For those looking to dispose of serving ware, such as paper plates and utensils left over from holiday parties, Crampton recommends using recyclable plastic cups (such as plastic #1). Solo brand cups may be recycled if disposed of in Hefty Energy Bags through your curbside program. Many plastic plates can be recycled as well, but must be free of food debris. Glossy paper plates are typically not recyclable.
Recyclers should be aware that compostable serving ware needs to be composted at an industrial composting facility. Crampton said Hillside Solutions is the only facility in the metro that qualifies. He warns that placing compost-only serving ware into curbside recycling bins will ultimately cost the recycling facility money, as it will be sorted out and, inevitably, end up in the landfill.
For more holiday tips, check out Hillside Solutions’ Zero Waste Gifting Guide online.