Holidays are the time to reduce, reuse and recycle
by Richard L. Hays and Terri Steele
he holidays are upon us, and the spirit of the season
is everywhere: the food ... the fun ... the parties ... the packages. But
there are costs associated with all this fun and folly, and the costs are
not just those you see on a price tag. A whopping 70 percent of consumer
discretionary purchases are made during the fall and winter holidays. With
those packages come a great deal of waste.
Overpackaged foods and gifts, disposable party supplies
and other holiday trimmings all lend themselves to San Diego's garbage glut.
Their use has distinct environmental costs - costs that can be easily avoided
by following the "Three R's" of the modern conservation ethic:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Think twice about the amount of waste you're generating
during the holidays and try to reduce it.
Purchase reusable canvas bags that can be used to replace
plastic or paper shopping bags at the grocer. Or pick up a set of handkerchiefs
or cloth napkins to use in place of disposable paper goods. Pen and pencil
sets are preferable to disposable writing utensils. Composting bins are
unique, environmentally-friendly gifts that make positive sense for San
Diego's waste environment, while producing a valuable fertilizer for house
plants and backyard gardens.
- Purchase wrapping paper and cards made from post-consumer waste paper.
- Use china, silverware and glass for holiday parties instead of paper
or disposable plastic items.
- Buy gifts for friends and family that will help them reduce the amount
of waste they generate.
With the holidays come an influx of holiday catalogues,
many of them unsolicited. Although the majority of this paper is recyclable,
junk mail, categorized as mixed waste paper, is of the lowest grade of paper
- and the most difficult to market.
Citizens can limit the loads of unsolicited junk mail
they receive (and ensure that material is kept out of San Diego's waste
stream) by writing and Mail Preference Service of the National Direct Marketing
Association. Simply indicate that you no longer want your name and address
released to mailing list companies and mail your name, variations of your
name, your address, city, state and zip code to the Mail Preferences Service,
National Direct Mail Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735.
The second area of emphases in the modern Conservation
ethic asks that citizens reuse as many items as many times as possible.
In its first major recycling partnership in San Diego, the Building Industry
Association of San Diego County is teaming up with the Sierra Club and Home
Depot to support a new services for diverting surplus demolition and construction
debris from San Diego's landfills.
This nonprofit San Diego Building Materials and Recycling
Services, Inc., reuses discarded construction and demolition debris for
use in local community services projects.
Nearly one-fifth of the waste entering San Diego's landfills
is demolition and construction debris. In addition to saving valuable landfill
space, this new services has the potential to provide the basic material
for underfunded community services projects that otherwise might not happen.
San Diego Building Materials Recycling will accept a
wide array of surplus building material and discarded remodel items like
toilets, sinks, tubs, lumber, cabinets, doors and windows. The firm is working
with agencies like Habitat for Humanity to ensure these materials are put
to the best and highest reuse possible. For further details, phone president
Dan Cannon at (619) 661-8155.
A new way to more efficiently manage San Diego's resources
this season is to purchase living trees that can be replanted after the
holidays or to take advantage of a new services that allows families to
rent live Christmas trees.
Live trees and plants other than the standard pine and
cedar can decorate your home and be suitable for planting outdoors after
the holidays. Try something new this holiday season and select a less traditional
species that will add to the landscape of your yard.
This season, services are available in San Diego County
where citizens can "rent" trees for the holidays. Growers nurture
and care for potted living trees and rent them to families from year to
year. Customers can order their trees over the phone or select them as a
family. If desired, a family can rent the same tree year after year. For
more information, phone the city and county of San Diego's hotline at (619)
467-0903 (city) and (800) 237-2583 (county).
The final, but by no means least important, component
of the modern conservation ethic is recycle, and there are plenty of opportunities
to recycle during the holidays.
The city and county of San Diego have produced a regional
recycling guild that lists the location, hours of operation and materials
accepted at more than 100 recycling centers county-wide. The free guide
makes a great stocking stuffer and is available by phoning (619) 467-0903
(city of San Diego) or (800) 237-2583 (other areas of the county).
There's no disputing for many families the holidays
aren't complete without a cheerily decorated holiday tree. This season marks
the 22nd anniversary of San Diego's Christmas Tree Recycling Program. The
program, part of a regional effort to divert tens of thousands of holiday
trees from burial at crowded landfills, is the oldest and one of the most
successful in the nation.
Between December 27, 1993 and January 17, 1994, trees
will be collected at dozens of drop-off sites throughout San Diego County
and taken to landfills, where they will be ground into mulch that helps
keep area parks green. Some trees are ground at the drop-off sites, where
the mulch is available to the public.
The regional program's goals are threefold::
Complete program information and FREE recycling guides
in both English and Spanish are available by calling the Recycling Hotline
at (619) 467-0903 (city) or (800) 237-2583 (county) or by stopping by Lucky
Stores county-wide or any City of San Diego Ralph's Supermarkets, Home Depot
or Target Store.
- To provide an environmentally-sensitive alternative to people's habits
of tossing discarded trees into the general waste stream (or illegally dumping
trees in alleys, canyons and other open space).
- To provide alternatives for holiday tree disposal, diverting thousands
of trees from burial at landfills.
- To use discarded trees in a productive way by grinding them into mulch
for use in city and county parks, schoolyards and along freeways.
This holiday season, give yourself - and the earth -
a gift by taking a little time to follow the "3 R's" philosophy.
It's a little something that benefits San Diego's environment in a big way.
Richard Hays is the director and Teri Steele the public information
officer of the Wsaste Management Depasrtment of the city of San Diego.