As we count down the days to Christmas, remember that this holiday season creates extra risks of toxic exposure with decorations, candles and wrapping. Here are some ways to reduce those risks:
• Do not burn wrapping paper - the colored paper contains lead and other heavy metals.
• Do not use imported, decorative candles that emit black smoke - this often indicates the presence of lead in the wick. The newer LED flickering candles are quite realistic and a great option to consider instead of regular wax candles.
• Bubble lights - which I love - can contain a toxic liquid and bulbs can cause burns so don’t leave young children alone with decorated trees.
• Mistletoe is highly toxic to children and pets - consider using artificial rather than the real thing. Other plants with toxic or irritating characteristics include: amaryllis (bulb), balsam, cedar, Christmas cactus, Christmas rose, elderberry, English Ivy, holly, juniper, narcissus (bulb) and several types of lily. My preference is for real plants so if you do use real ones just make sure that you place these types of plants in higher or limited access locations for the safety of children and pets.
The holiday season also tends to generate more trash, so remember to use best practices for disposal:
• Make sure your trash is bagged securely so it doesn’t blow out of your vehicle or trash-collection vehicles and decorate our roads with your litter.
• When disposing of product packaging from gifts, please consider sorting for proper recycling. Lightboard packaging on products can be recycled as well as many wrapping papers that are either made of recycled products or papers that are not glittered or shiny foil types. Check product packaging for the recycle symbols.
• Cardboard is easily recycled at local Recycling Drop off Centers. Please flatten boxes and remove staples and tape.
• If new computer, tablets, cell phones or other electronics will be gift items, please recycle or dispose of old electronics properly. These electronics can be recycled at local Recycle It! Fairs. The next Recycle it! Fairs will be held in February.
• Save and reuse Christmas gift bags, wraps, tissue paper ribbons and tags that are in good condition. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And gifts made locally often have a story which goes with the gift, since the artisan and the origin of the gift are known.
• Choose gifts made from recycled products. Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses will help to reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making the best use of available materials and resources.
• According to the EPA, about 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Trashing batteries are an environmental hazard so please remember to turn any household batteries at local recycle It! Fairs (next one in February) or use rechargeable batteries (which can also be turned in at local Recycle It! Fairs).
And, finally, if you are purchasing one of the 33 million live Christmas trees this year, please make plans to turn that tree in between Dec. 26 and Jan. 6 through our local Bring One for the Chipper program 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. 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.
The holidays are such a wonderful time of the year. By making wise choices we can also make it a healthier time for our environment and still a special time for our family and friends.
To find out more about ways to take care of our environment, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880 4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org .