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Issues Of The Environment: Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle Your Holiday Waste


The 2017 holiday season is over, so what's going to happen to all of that holiday waste?  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks to Christine Chessler-Stull, Outreach & Zero Waste Coordinator for Recycle Ann Arbor, to discuss reducing, reusing, and recycling during the holidays, particularly how to recycle or dispose of difficult items like bubble wrap, batteries, and electronics, following the gift-giving season.


   ·  According to Use Less Stuff (ULS), extra holiday waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about one million extra tons per week. 

   ·  Reducing your impact on the environment while saving money this season only takes a few changes to habits.

   ·  Try giving experiential gifts like vacations or services, gift certificates for massages & spa treatments, or give homemade gifts.

   ·  Try to use reusable or recycled materials.  Reuse gift bags & wrapping materials Try not to overly package gifts. 

   ·  Look for the appropriate place in Washtenaw County to recycle or donate items that may not have been possible in years past, including bubble wrap, batteries, textiles, Christmas lights, Christmas trees (new location!!!), cooking oil, electronics, and plastic bags.

Winter Holiday Reuse & Recycling Guide for 2017 from Recycle Ann Arbor

Holiday Waste Reduction Offerings from RAA

  • Batteries - Rechargeable: Unusable rechargeable batteries & button batteries can be taken to the Drop-Off Station or to the Recovery Yard. 

  • Bubble Wrap: Save quality bubble wrap to be reused.  If the wrap cannot be reused, it should be taken to the Drop-Off Station. 

  • Electronics: Many replaced, working electronics can be donated to the ReUse Center.  Items that cannot be reused can be taken to the Drop-Off Station or Recovery Yard. 

  • Cardboard: Reuse cardboard as often as possible before placing in your curbside bin.  If you have a quantity too large for the cart it can be taken to the Drop-Off Station or the Recovery Yard. 

  • Paper Gift Bags: Keep for reuse.  If they're not suitable for reuse, they can be placed in your curbside recycling cart. 

  • Christmas Trees: From Dec. 15th, 2017 to Jan. 31st, 2018, Christmas trees can be taken to the following parks between 6 am and 10 pm: West Park, Gallup Park, Olson Park & Southeast Area Park.  More info at  PLEASE NOTE: The Drop-Off Station is NOT the location for Christmas tree drop-off as it has been in the past. 

  • Plastic Bags: Reuse for as long as possible.  Larger quantities can be taken to the Drop-Off Station and area grocery stores, such as Kroger and Meijer. 

  • Greeting Cards: Reuse cards in craft projects or donate the front page to the Scrapbox on State Circle in Ann Arbor.  The back page can be placed in your curbside recycling cart for recycling.  Note: Cards with foil or metallic features can't be recycled curbside

  • Replaced Items: Including sporting goods, books, and electronics.  Donate any usable items to the ReUse Center.  Items that can't be reused can be taken to the Drop-Off Station or Recovery Yard. 

  • Styrofoam Packaging: Can be taken to the Drop-Off Station. 

  • Textiles: Reusable, good textiles can go to one of the Ann Arbor's many thrift stores.  Torn or stained textiles can be taken to the Drop-Off Station. 

  • Wrapping Paper: Save quality paper for reuse. Torn, crumpled wrapping paper can be placed in the curbside recycling bin.  Foil or metallic paper can NOT be recycled and should be reused. You can also wrap your gifts in reusable fabric.  Check out for ideas. 

  • Christmas Lights: Try to fix them first.  If they cannot be fixed, the Drop-Off Station and Recovery Yard will accept them. 

Be Waste Aware This Holiday Season

  • Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle this Holiday: Reducing your impact on the environment while saving money this season only takes a few changes to habits.  

  • Non-Material Gifts: Give experiential gifts like vacations or services, like gift certificates for massages & spa treatments. 

  • Give Handmade Gifts: Use reused and recycled materials whenever possible. 

  • Shop & Buy Local: It helps to support your local economy.  Shopping local and buying locally made items also benefits the environment in that it uses fewer resources and creates less pollution. 

  • Reduce Food Waste: Shop wisely and plan ahead; buying only what you need in order to minimize food waste. 

  • Reuse Gift Bags & Wrapping: And, try not to overly package gifts.

  • Look for Recycled Materials: Buy cards, paper, and gifts made from recycled materials. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

Nearly three-quarters of David Fair’s 20+ years in radio has been at WEMU. Since 1994, he has been on the air at 5am each weekday on 89.1 FM as the local host of NPR’s Morning Edition. Over the years, Fair has had the opportunity to interview nationally and internationally known politicians, activists and celebrities. But he feels the most important features and interviews have been with those who live and work here at home. He believes his professional passions and desires fit perfectly into WEMU’s commitment to serving a local audience.
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