Holiday Pollution Prevention

county of san diego watershed protection program


Holiday Photo

Celebrate the Holidays with Pollution Prevention in Mind

The holiday season is here and it’s time to celebrate with your household. But in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, one thing that may not be on your list is how your holiday celebrations – from meal making to gift giving – can contribute to water pollution. Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. If we’re not careful in managing and properly disposing of our holiday waste, it can end up polluting our streets and neighborhoods, washing into our storm drains, and eventually reaching our waterways and beaches. Unlike sanitary sewers, water that flows into storm drains is not treated and can have harmful effects on our environment. The good news is – you can take action to celebrate the holidays and our waterways at the same time!

Rethink Holiday Waste by taking a second look at how your household is planning to celebrate and commit to modifying your efforts to reduce waste.

  • Holiday Food Waste – Reduce holiday food waste by preparing the right amount of food for your guests. Try using Save The Food’s Guest-Imator for guidance. Reduce meal portions where possible and using up ingredients you already have on hand. Uneaten items or leftovers can be stored in reusable storage containers, composted, or donated to local food pantries. Make food waste reduction a family affair by teaching your kids how to reduce food waste and protect the environment through the EPA’s Food Is Too Good to Waste Activity Book. For more tips on how to reduce food waste, see I Love A Clean San Diego’s blog on 10 Tips to Reduce Food Waste This Holiday Season..
  • Holiday Gifts and Packaging – Holidays are meant to be bountiful, but that can also mean bountiful waste. Consider the following alternatives to traditional gift-giving and wrapping:
    • Give gifts of experiences. Not only can you make the holiday meaningful and memorable, but you can also help to minimize waste and clutter. Consider donating to a charity on behalf of someone; offering the gift of time to help ease a loved one’s burden with meals, childcare, or supporting a cause they hold dearly.
    • Recycle/reuse gift wrapping and packaging such as recycled cardboard packing boxes; reusing ribbon, gift boxes and bags; and replacing traditional giftwrap with alternative wrappings like newspaper, or fabric. Did you know that if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet? Learn how to maintain a low-waste lifestyle while navigating the gift giving, wrapping, and décor of the holiday season by attending I Love A Clean San Diego’s Celebrate Sustainably: Gifts and Glitz Webinar on December 8th.  
    • Properly Dispose of Holiday Waste – Remind yourself of the basic principles of recycling, sorting, and proper disposal techniques using the guidelines below.
  • Recycling Basics – Review the County’s Holiday What Goes Where Flyer to make sure you’re properly disposing of and recycling holiday waste. Visit the County’s Recycling Right webpage to learn about keeping items Empty, Dry, and Loose to ensure recyclables don’t become contaminated or create a hazard for workers or machinery.
  • Securing Trash/Recycling Bin Lids – Many holiday items are lightweight and can easily blow into our storm drains or be removed by animals if not disposed of properly in a covered bin. To prevent trash and green waste from entering our storm drain system, be sure to securely close bins on recycling, trash, and green waste bins and replace any trash cans that are leaking or deteriorating.
  • Christmas Trees – Many local waste haulers offer curbside pick-up of live Christmas trees and wreaths, in addition to dozens of community drop-off sites. Contact your local waste hauler, municipality or to find out where and how to recycle your trees. Be sure to remove tinsel, ornaments, garland, lights, and other non-recyclable items before disposing.

Continue to spread holiday joy by giving the gift of beautiful waterways for generations to come by practicing waste-free behavior on a daily basis.

The County of San Diego wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and thanks you for all of your efforts to prevent water pollution and preserve the beauty of our waterways and beaches year-round!

Holiday Recycling Flyer


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