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Make less trash this Christmas to keep Liberty beautiful
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Most of us are now deep in the hurry-scurry preparations of the holidays, having survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

While you are in the midst of all of this holiday season chaos, I bring you good cheer and tidings of great joy because it is easier now than ever to find environmentally friendly options and ideas in all of these areas. I shared a number of "green’"ideas last week on gift giving but I thought I would focus on some "trashy" ideas this week.

Don’t get too excited. All of these ideas are strictly "g-rated" and deal particularly with handling the amount of waste that can accumulate during the holidays.

Americans produce tons of extra waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Most research estimates a 25 percent increase over normal levels.

Just like our waistlines may benefit from paying attention to what we put in our mouths during the holidays, our environment will benefit from awareness about what we put in our waste bins or can redirect for reuse or recycling.

Parties happen! Inevitably, all of the revelry and generosity associated with celebrating the holidays contributes to expanding our waistlines - and our waste lines. While statistics suggest the average American gains just a single pound as a result of our indulgences, the impact of those brimming waste bins is a bulging landfill that will outlast our lifetime. So, here are some suggestions for having a healthier effect on our community during the holidays:

• If you’re hosting a holiday blowout, send guests home with leftovers, so you don’t add to the 28 billion pounds of edible food that is wasted each year. Generally, our waste is made up of about 30 percent organic matter such as food scraps and other compostable materials, like yard trimmings. Consider composting at least for the holidays.

• Take your environmentally healthy holidays approach even farther by shopping local, buying fresh locally grown produce and locally made treats. Remember to shop with reusable bags. Shop local and shop small—take advantage of the interesting products that local small businesses have available for gift options.

• One thing I am a real stickler for is using the real stuff at your holiday table. It is a holiday, after all, so please consider bypassing the paper plates and napkins and cups. I know that they are very convenient but we accumulate a load of waste by using them.

• If you are purchasing one of the 33 million live Christmas trees this year, please make plans to turn that tree in through our local Bring One for the Chipper program. Trees can be dropped off between Dec. 26 and Jan. 6 at any recycling drop off site or any Liberty County Solid Waste Convenience Center in designated areas. Or if you would like drop off your tree between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Liberty County Health Department, for each tree donated we will provide tree seedlings and free packets of seeds to local citizens.

• If you opt to buy an artificial tree, I understand that it certainly provides a significant level of convenience, but be aware that these trees will ultimately become part of the waste stream when their usefulness is at an end. So, please make sure that you take care of your tree and use it as long as possible.

To find out more about making your Holiday "green," contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880 4888 or or check out www.keeplibertybeautiful.

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