LiveGreen: Cleaning (and greening) after the holidays

by Anne Rivas, UNMC LiveGreen | December 17, 2013

Image with file name: LiveGreen211.jpg

In a couple of weeks the needles will be falling off the tree, you'll have a stack of catalogs taller than your toddler, and you'll just want to get life back to normal. LiveGreen has some helpful tips that will make clean up easier -- and greener.

Trees

  • If you dug a hole and bought a living tree, plant it right after the holiday using instructions from the nursery.
  • Check here for Omaha "treecycling" locations, open from Dec. 24 to Jan. 14.
  • Put the tree out in your yard to shelter birds and wildlife, leaving the popcorn/cranberry garland and cookies on the tree and cut it up for compost or mulch next summer.
  • Mulch your garden with the branches.

Catalogs

  • Use company websites or 800 numbers to remove yourself from catalog mailing lists.
  • Recycle the catalogs.
  • Contact Catalog Choice to remove your name from marketers' databases.

Cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and gift bags

  • As your family unwraps gifts, make separate piles of paper recycling, cardboard recycling, and materials to save for reuse.
  • Cards without foil or plastic can go in your paper recycling. Cards that can't be recycled can be saved for other uses next year - as gift tags or other decorations.
  • Wrapping paper can be folded or rolled and stored for next year, along with ribbons, bows and gift bags. Over-achievers can iron the paper first on low heat, no steam -- looks like new!
  • Used tissue paper can be crumpled and used as a textured wrap on other occasions.

Lights

Stuff: Receive, regift, recycle

  • After you've written your thank-you notes, set aside items that you'd like to regift. Label gifts with the names of the givers and check for hidden tags and cards to avoid embarrassment.
  • Have a swap party -- invite close friends to bring over superfluous items to trade.
  • Gather up things you no longer use -- items in good condition that have been replaced, outgrown, or never used. These can be recycled through thrift stores or donated to charities. (Clothing should be cleaned first.) Keep receipts of donations if you itemize deductions on your tax return.
  • Electronics can be recycled through General Supply at UNMC.

Food

  • Cook only what you'll need.
  • Send leftovers home with guests.
  • Compost vegetables.
  • Use bones for stock.

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