Laying waste to holidays

first_imgUneaten fruitcakes, ill-fitting sweaters and the wrapping paper they come in may be gifts from the heart, but they end up in the same place – local landfills. Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to trash service provider Waste Management. Nationally, that amounts to about a million extra tons per week. Much of the extra waste comes from gift wrap and packaging, said Eric Rose, director of communications for Waste Management. “A lot of it is plastics,” Rose said, adding at least one in 10 pounds of trash is plastic. There is also more food waste from large meal preparations, and waste from parties – decorations, plastic utensils and paper plates. Grace Chan, assistant head of the Solid Waste Department for the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, said the districts’ landfills, including Whittier’s Puente Hills Landfill, don’t really see an overall increase in trash coming to landfills around Christmas, but that may be because residential waste accounts for only one-third of the total wastestream at that landfill. Also, non-retail commercial and construction activity may slow down between Christmas and New Year’s Day, offsetting the increase in waste from homes. The Puente Hills Landfill receives about 325,000 to 350,000 Christmas trees every year, most which get ground up and used as landfill cover. “Sometimes we get more green waste than can use, so we use all we can on site, and send the rest to the composting facility,” said Mark Giljum, who coordinate’s the landfill’s Christmas tree program. “We get plenty of green waste, so we’re not in desperate need for Christmas trees for ground cover,” he said. Hacienda Heights environmentalist Jeff Yann said he and his wife used to mulch or compost their Christmas trees through a county program, but now have a plastic tree which they reuse. For those who use live trees, Yann said it is best to mulch or compost your tree rather than throw the tree away because even when used as a cover, it still ends up going into the landfill. As far as gifts goes, he tries to buy products with less packaging, but that’s often an uphill battle. “I think it’s hard for people to make decisions (in buying gifts) even if they have a problem with the way things are packaged,” he said. “The manufacturers don’t have to take any responsibility for their packaging, so they overpack.” Yann said his wife puts presents in colorful gift bags that don’t have to be torn to open the gift, so they can be reused. Yann himself does not wrap gifts at all, he said, but not for environmental reasons. “That’s just laziness,” he said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more