Going Green in the After-Christmas Frenzy

Although Christmas Day has passed, there are still things you can do to keep the holidays eco-friendly into the New Year. Let's go out strong, y'all!

Packaging and Gift Wrap

  • I hope you used recyclable wrapping paper on your gifts, but if not, remember that waxy, metallic papers must go in the trash. 
    • You can also save your used wrapping paper to wrap breakable decorations for storage, or other breakable household items.
  • Collect and save all bows, ribbons, tissue paper, bags, boxes and gift tags in good condition, and store them for future use.
  • When it comes to packaging, recycle everything that's accepted in your city's curbside bin:
    • Cardboard boxes
      • Break down cardboard boxes for both space and security. Everything needs to fit inside the bin so it can be picked up by the mechanical arm. Especially if you have new electronics, you want to be discreet when disposing of the box so you aren't showing off just what expensive valuables are inside your home.
    • Paper
    • Plastics (check with your city to see which plastics they accept. Lafayette currently accepts all numbered plastics, but not Styrofoam).
      • Styrofoam is a popular packaging material, but it has to go in the trash, along with plastic bags, plastic sleeves and twist ties.
    • If you happen to have packing peanuts, call your local UPS Store to see if they will accept a donation.

Returning Gifts

  • It's always an awkward situation, but if you received a gift you simply don't need or want, it's better to return or exchange it than to let it take up space and gather dust. If you're not sure where to return an item or it's past the deadline to return, look at selling it online (unless the gift giver would see it and be offended) or saving it to regift. Some may find it tacky, but it's better to give an item to someone who would actually use it!
  • If you have to ship something back to return it, reuse a box lying around your house instead of buying a new one at the post office.
  • If you have a gift card to a store you don't shop at, look at donating it to a nonprofit organization. Call a local shelter to see if they might accept gift cards for families in need. 
  • Donate items to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
  • Donate gifts (especially toys) to nonprofit organizations like homeless shelters, women's homes, or children's organizations. This is also something you can do with older toys to make room for your kids' new gifts!

Food Leftovers

  • Hey, you've got lunch and dinner for the next few days! 
  • Freeze what can be frozen if you can't eat everything within a few days.
  • Send to-go plates home with your guests. Or if you're a guest, ask about taking some food home (if you're bold, you can bring a reusable container with you.)
    • This is one way to give out some of those extra reusable containers on hand, instead of using disposable plates, plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil.
  • If you have a lot of leftovers, call homeless shelters and see if they'll accept the food as a donation.
  • Compost any remaining food scraps, especially if it's just not enough to save. 
    • Composting is also a good option for food waste resulting from cooking and preparation.

Christmas Tree Disposal

  • Louisiana no longer manages a Christmas tree recycling program for the coastline, and Lafayette Parish does not currently collect trees for coastal programs.
  • If you’re a resident of the city of Lafayette or unincorporated areas of the parish and you have a real tree, put it out for collection with your yard waste in the weeks after Christmas. Yard waste materials go to Lafayette Consolidated Government’s compost facility and are ground into mulch. 
    • An important note: trees MUST be free of ornaments, lights, tinsel, flocking and tree stands!
    • Any Acadiana resident can drop off their trees to the compost facility (located at 400 North Dugas Road) for a small fee. During the winter, they’re open Monday through Friday, 7-3:30, and on the second Saturday of each month (December through February) from 7-noon.
  • Do NOT burn Christmas trees in your interior fireplace. The sap from trees can create a fire hazard in your chimney or vent piping. And be careful if you burn it outside - they burn hot and fast.
  • If you’re into fishing, reuse Christmas trees by sinking them in lakes to create fish habitats. 
  • Add your tree to your own compost pile, or make your own mulch with it. 
  • Artificial Christmas trees must go in the trash if they cannot be reused anymore. They do not go into yard waste collection piles or recycling bins.
    • If you're upgrading your artificial tree, but your old one is still functional, try donating it to local nonprofits, schools or churches - call first to ask if they will accept the donation.

Putting Decorations Away

  • Store breakable items by wrapping them in newsprint or used wrapping paper.
  • Use small tins to hold tiny items like ornament hooks or spare light bulbs.
  • Store decorations in reusable organizers and containers.
    • By storing your decorations properly, you can ensure that you'll get years of use out of them, saving them from the landfill.
  • To empty used up candle jars and tins, put them in the freezer for a couple days. Take them out and run them under warm water to pop out the wax, then wash and clean the jars/tins. You can use them to hold tea light or votive candles, or make your own candles.
  • If you haven't made the switch to LED lights and lighted decorations, take advantage of after-Christmas sales to stock up for next year.

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