It's Christmastime! Rejoice, reuse and recycle

DOWNEY - With the Christmas holidays comes some of the year's heaviest buying--$147 billion in the ten days before Christmas last year, according to James Covert of the New York Post. Worldwide, MasterCard holders used their cards an average of 4 million times per hour during peak hours on Black Friday this year. At their heaviest, transactions took place at the dizzying pace of 1,200 per second.Those holiday goodies come with a lot of paper, plastic, and other kinds of packaging. And it turns out December accumulates more trash than any other month of the year. Santa, bless his heart, delivers everything without using fossil fuel. (We do hope he composts the byproducts of his chosen mode of transportation.) And lastly, good ol' Saint Nick models the "REUSE" maxim by always wearing the same suit. In that spirit, there's a lot we too can do this holiday season to extend the life of our precious resources. First, if you haven't finished all your shopping yet, you can embrace Santa's "REUSE" ethic by picking up some creative gifts at thrift and secondhand stores. But let's say you've bought all those gifts, and you and your family are just waiting expectantly for the sound of reindeers clip-clopping on your roof. In Downey, CalMet Services has made things easier by providing single-source recycling, so we can focus on the celebration without having to sort out every little thing. But we CAN help them out by using a little care in how and what we recycle. So after all the gifts are opened, here are some ideas about what to REUSE or recycle this Christmas: Recycle clean cardboard. Unless of course you're going to REUSE the boxes. (If you're really diligent, you could recycle the clean tops of used pizza boxes, though not the greasy bottoms.) Gift boxes, of course, can be recycled too, the ones that use the same type of paperboard as cereal boxes. (You're recycling those already, right?) Again, you could also put that box in your collection to REUSE for another gift next year. When you're finally done with the Christmas leftovers, instead of throwing them in the trash, compost your food waste. By the way, if you're already composting, Christmas tree needles, which are acidic, can be used in your compost to balance out the alkaline content. As for wrapping paper, you will need to sort out the paper with plastic or metal content and put that in the trash. The rest can be recycled in the CalMet blue bin, or shredded and saved for later use as protective packaging for future gifts. You can also use wrapping paper, as well as old newspaper, for streak-free window cleaning. Kids can use wrapping paper for origami. Christmas cards can be cut up into squares or rectangles to be REUSEd as gift tags or bookmarks. They can also be saved as card stock for craft projects. If you're getting rid of old Christmas lights--perhaps upgrading to LED's--the copper in those wires can be separated at electronics recycling facilities, such as CalMet's in Paramount. And last but not least, CalMet has traditionally recycled Christmas trees for Downey residents, which get a second life as mulch. You can find out more about recycling at, an American company which "specializes in providing consumers with accessible and actionable recycling information across the country." In addition, this author borrowed a number of suggestions from the UK site, "How Can I Recycle This?" at So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Rejoice, REUSE, and Recycle! And make Santa proud!

********** Published: December 20, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 36