Wake County Shares Top Tips to Stop Trashing the Holiday Season

Did you know Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day than any other time of year? In fact, every person creates about 36 more pounds of waste in December, the same as throwing away seven computer monitors!

All that holiday decorating, cooking and gifting means unnecessary waste can pile up at the landfill and harm the environment. So our Wake County Solid Waste team is celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas by sharing 12 easy tips to spend more time with loved ones and less time filling up the trash can!

“If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields,” said Wake County Commissioner Don Mial. “Or, instead of giving material gifts this year, give someone an experience like a kayaking trip in a Wake County Park or a tour of a local vineyard. You can even plan a tour to our South Wake Landfill where the view is amazing. Gifts should be about creating memories, not making waste!”

12 Tips for a Waste-Free Holiday

  1. Yes, you can recycle broken string lights! You can place them in the scrap metal recycling containers at any one of Wake County’s 11 Convenience Centers. How convenient!
  2. Recycle live Christmas trees at select Wake County parks and Convenience Centers starting the day after Christmas! Our Happy Trails program recycled 5,732 trees last year – that’s more than 100 tons of mulch on our park trails!
  3. Bring your own bags to stores, farmers markets and pop-up markets to reduce the number of plastic bags you accumulate.
  4. Bring your used cooking oil to our Multi-Material Facilities and just pour it into one of our big containers – that oil can be refined into valuable biodiesel! There are three of these locations in Wake County – find the one closest to you!
  5. Don’t put the leftover food on your plate in the trash! Compost it to build healthy soil for your spring garden. Visit our website for a step-by-step guide to building your own compost pile.
  6. All those Christmas cards and cardboard gift packaging – take off the tape and flatten them out – then head to the 11 local Convenience Centers to recycle!
  7. Did you get some great new ugly Christmas sweaters – don’t throw out those worn, old ones – our Convenience Centers recycle clothes, too! Just put clean, dry clothes in a secured bag Sorry, no sheets, towels or other linens, please.
  8. Recycle paper cards and gift boxes in mixed recycling containers at Convenience Centers. Discard any photo cards in the trash.
  9. Electronic toys, cell phones and computers can be recycled at our Multi-Material Facilities. Remember to remove any sensitive data first!
  10. Hosting a holiday party? Did you know you can reserve free containers from Wake County to make it easy to sort waste into trash, recycling and compost at your next event. Impress the guests with your waste-less ways for free!
  11. Ditch the disposable dinnerware and single-use products – none of them are recyclable, and even products labeled “biodegradable” may not break down in compost. If you want to take the time to buy compostable products, our Food Scraps Collection page lists the labeling to look for. So dust off the good dishes – choose reusable cups, plates, utensils and napkins and decrease the waste.
  12. Consider experiential gifts. Giving a loved one the opportunity to experience a musical concert, local tour or spa treatment creates unique memories without generating much waste for the landfill.
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