Residents are encouraged to “Go Green For the Holidays.” Trash sent to the landfill increases an average of 25 percent because of the holiday season, according to Nancy Krauss, recycling program aide for the North Brunswick Department of Public Works.
To reduce, buy gift items with the least amount of packaging, consider wrapping presents in reusable fabric instead of paper and consider a potted Christmas tree that can be planted after the holidays.
To reuse, cut old holiday cards into fun shapes to use as gift tags, bring reusable shopping totes to the store, save gift bags and gift boxes for next year’s use and use recycled wrapping paper or brightly colored newspaper to wrap gifts.
To recycle, place gift boxes, packing materials, non-metallic wrapping paper, greeting cards and envelopes, plastic drinking cups and cardboard wrapping paper inserts in the appropriate recycling bins. Also, bring packing peanuts to a local UPS store.
The ideas stemmed from Krauss’s childhood, as she learned recycling tips from her parents, who being from the World War II generation, were “recyclers extraordinaire,” and from her grandparents, who did not have much money to buy new items while living through the Great Depression.
“I didn’t realize it was recycling at the time but it did make financial sense,” Krauss said of habits such as putting food scraps in a can on the sink to compost, burning newspapers and cardboard in a fireplace, returning plastic soda bottles to the store before it was mainstream, turning eggshells into mulch, using the “Funny Pages” of the newspaper as birthday paper and her father turning extra copies of music sheets into notepads.
Although growing up, she thought her family was “crazy” for its obsession with recycling, she quickly learned that there was a spillover effect because of the resourcefulness of recycling.
“Still, to this day, I do that kind of stuff because habits, when they’re part of your everyday routine, they stick with you,” she said.
For the holidays, she continues in the traditions her mother set, such as cutting Christmas cards into gift tags, sending the same Christmas cards back and forth, wrapping wine bottles in fabric or putting presents in a totebag.
“It saved the consumption of new materials and was also a fun tradition,” Krauss said. “Some of these habits bled into my group of friends as well. … I have friends who wouldn’t buy a gift tag if their life depended on it.”
As a member of DPW and a certified recycling professional through Rutgers University, Krauss undoubtedly understands the financial impact of recycling, as recycling rates go up as disposal rates decrease.
But although she pursued employment with DPW because of her computer skills, she turned her “passion” into something more productive. She believes that if one resident partakes in just one recycling activity, the results would be significant. “Small acts create a huge impact if everyone does just a little bit,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to make an impact now.
“Old-time points of view are important today, if not more,” she said.
For more “green” tips, call Krauss at DPW at 732-297-1134.