Monday, December 14, 2009

Go Green This Holiday Season

/PRNewswire/ -- According to experts, most of us will generate 25 percent more waste during the holidays compared with the rest of the year -- resulting in an extra 5 million tons of garbage. To encourage consumers to "trim their trash" while trimming their trees, Plastics Make it Possible(SM), an initiative sponsored by the plastics industries of the American Chemistry Council, offers this holiday "how to" guide for reusing and recycling everyday plastics.

According to a recent national survey conducted by Plastics Make it Possible(SM), 67 percent of Americans recycle to do their part to help the environment. During the holidays, it's especially important that we keep it up.

"From beverage bottles and food containers to shopping bags and dry cleaning wrap, so much of the waste we generate during the holidays is recyclable," said Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division. "These valuable plastic materials can be easily recycled in many communities and given a second life as carpeting, clothing, furniture, durable backyard decks and home building products, new bottles and bags, and other products we use every day."

By turning the following reuse and recycling tips into household habits, you can help reduce waste, keep valuable plastics out of landfills, and protect our planet during the holidays and year-round.

1. Get smart. Find out which plastics are accepted for recycling
in your community. Today, more than 80 percent of U.S. households
have access to a recycling program, and the vast majority of them
collect plastic bottles. A bottle is any container with a neck or
opening that's smaller than its base. Include the following
wherever plastic bottles are recycled:
-- Milk jugs
-- Beverage bottles (e.g., water, soft drinks, juice and beer)
-- Bottles from shampoo, toiletries, laundry detergent and other
household cleaners
-- Salad dressing, cooking oil and condiment bottles
-- Food jars, such as peanut butter and mayonnaise
2. Remove and rinse. Before tossing bottles in the recycle bin,
remove the caps. Be sure to rinse bottles that previously
contained food. (Empty beverage bottles can go straight into the
bin.) Unless your community specifically asks for them, bottle
caps should be placed in the garbage, not the recycle bin.
Similarly, bags should be clean and empty. Do not include plastic
food wrap or bags that have food residue.
3. Reuse, reuse, reuse! From wrapping to ribbons, boxes to packing
peanuts, gather and save gift wrap and packing materials for next
year! And don't forget bags -- there are many helpful ways to
reuse plastic bags, including:
-- Wet umbrella cover - keep other items in your bag dry when your
umbrella is wet
-- Suitcase savers - wrap shoes before packing them with clean
clothes
-- Hand protectors - place them over your hands to handle messes
indoors and out
-- Kitchen clean-up - place them under the cutting board for
quick scrap removal
-- Trash can liners - use them in bathrooms and other household
waste baskets
-- Doggie duty - bring them on dog walks to collect and dispose of
pet waste
4. Bring bags back. Most large grocery stores and some
retailers (e.g., Wal-Mart) offer plastic bag drop-off programs
that allow consumers to return their used bags and product wraps
to be recycled. These bins are usually located at the front
entrance or near checkout areas. Almost all kinds of clean
plastic bags are accepted for recycling in these programs, including:
-- Grocery bags
-- Retail bags (remove hard plastic or string handles)
-- Plastic newspaper bags
-- Dry cleaning bags (remove paper and hangers)
-- Bread bags (with crumbs shaken out)
-- You can also include plastic wraps from products such as paper
towels, bathroom tissue, napkins, diapers and cases of soda
wherever plastic bags are collected for recycling.
5. Pitch in beyond the kitchen. While many recyclable bottles
come from the kitchen, don't forget to check the bathrooms and
laundry room for shampoo and detergent bottles.
6. Practice patience. On the road this holiday season and can't
find a recycle bin? Don't throw your empty bottles in the trash --
temporarily store them in a purse or briefcase, or simply leave
them in the car until arriving home to place in a recycle bin.
And don't forget to temporarily put the cap back on your bottle
to prevent leakage until you can properly recycle it.
7. Don't throw out the leftovers. Saving your lidded plastic
food containers and plastic to-go containers from take-out
could provide a free and easy way for holiday party guests to
carry home leftovers. Plus, they can keep these items and reuse
them again.
8. Check for containers. In addition to bottles, roughly one-third of
communities are collecting and recycling plastic containers, such as
yogurt cups, tubs, trays and lids. If you're only recycling bottles,
check to see if your community is one of the many areas that has
recently added food containers to its list of collectibles.
9. When in doubt, leave it out. Keep in mind that mixing the wrong types
of materials (even other plastics) can lower the quality of the
recycled material. So unless your community specifically asks for
plastics other than bottles, please put only bottles into the
recycling bin. Keep these items out of the recycle bin unless your
community specifically accepts them:
-- No plastic bags or wraps (take them to your grocery store, if
accepted)
-- No automotive, pesticide or solvent bottles
-- No lids or spray pumps
-- No toys
-- No trays, tubs or containers (unless your community accepts them;
more and more communities are recycling these types of containers
in addition to bottles, so it's worth checking.)
10. Adopt a second life mindset. Do you ever wonder where your
recyclables go? Keep in mind that today's water bottle could be
tomorrow's little black dress or carpeting or backyard deck.


For more tips and ideas on plastics reuse and recycling, visit www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com.

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