Reduce Waste this Holiday Season

Every month, Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility hosts an Open House that allows folks from the community to see what happens to their recyclables, explore a certain waste-related topic, and participate in a craft or activity. The Ecology Center leads the programming out at the MRF which includes weekday tours for school groups and adults, and these monthly events.

This month, the focus was on ways to reduce waste this holiday season. As you may remember from last month’s article, the amount of waste we produce increases by about 25% during this time of the year. Information and suggestions on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle were given to visitors, like:

• Consider giving non-material gifts for the holidays, which reduces the whole impact of a product from manufacturing to disposal.

• Give someone you care about your time for the holidays by exploring a new park or unique museum, or cooking a delicious meal.

• Buy recycled-content products, which helps “close the loop” on the entire recycling process.

• Try purchasing “new to you” gifts at second-hand stores or using unique exchange sites like Yerdle or FreeCycle.

• Consider packaging gifts using repurposed materials, like old t-shirts, maps, or even cereal boxes, instead of buying new bags, paper, or boxes. (Especially considering that containers and packaging made up almost 30% of the entire waste generated in the U.S. in 2013!)

This last suggestion was the focus of this month’s activity. Visitors turned old cereal and granola bar boxes inside out and decorated them with their own personal flair. Others created recycled bows using old magazines.