Green Neighbors program offers tips for minimizing holiday waste

Sebastian Rubino / sebastian@thereflector.com

Clark County Waste and Environmental Outreach encourages people to take certain steps to reduce food waste this holiday season.

Household waste in Clark County and across the country typically increases between 20 and 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to a press release. Food waste, shopping bags, bows, ribbons, wrappers and wrapping paper during the holiday season can add an additional million tonnes of trash per week to landfills nationwide.

Tina Kendall of the Green Neighbors program has some tips to help reduce waste.

“We have a Guest-imator, which is an online dinner calculator that estimates how much food you’ll need to feed your guests in the hopes that the extra food doesn’t go to waste,” Kendall said.

A person can select the number of people to eat, as well as the amount of leftover meals they expect, while also selecting the main, side and dessert dishes. Once this is done, the online calculator offered by the Natural Resources Defense Council at savethefood.com/guestimator/calculator, will tell people how many pounds of food to buy and also provide advice on storage and serving, Kendall said.

Over the years, the amount of waste in landfills has worsened, the statement said. Kendall said 31 tons of trash can fit in a shipping container. Two years ago, around 250 containers of waste were generated every week.

“More recently, we move around 303 containers to landfill every week. This is most likely attributed to the increase in population, the effects of the pandemic, wasted vacations and other things, ”she said. “We want to encourage everyone to think about not only what they throw in the trash, but also to use less and reuse what you have.”

Single-use plastic items like plates, cups, napkins and silverware from take out, delivery and casual dining can also have a negative effect on the environment. Kendall said nearly a trillion disposable foodservice products are used in the United States each year.

To help reduce the costs associated with the waste generated in Washington, a new state law will come into effect in January. Customers will need to indicate if they want single-use items or they will need to select items from self-serve bins instead of including them in a food order. Single-use foods and beverages included in the law include plastic utensils, straws, condiment wrappers, and cup lids for cold drinks.

“Although single-use plastic pollution accumulates most visibly on our streets, in fact our water suffers even more,” Kendall said. “Waste can be the first step in a waste stream that enters waterways, as plastics dumped on the streets are washed away in the rain or travel through storm sewers into rivers and streams. The plastic pollution of our waterways is particularly concentrated: only 10 rivers carry 93% of the total amount of plastic in the world which enters the oceans through rivers each year. “

She added that instead of investing in quality products that will last, people often prioritize convenience over sustainability and considering long-term impacts. Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide each year, half of which is from single-use items. That’s almost equivalent to the weight of the entire human population, according to Kendall.

To better educate people about the benefits of recycling, there will be a recycled arts festival in 2022. The event has been taking place for 15 years.

The festival’s mission focuses on educating Clark County residents about waste reduction, reuse and recycling, and aims to inspire them to see things they might otherwise consider waste in a way new and beautiful, Kendall said.

“The festival is able to achieve its mission by bringing together highly talented artists who create amazing works of art using a minimum of 75% recycled materials,” said Kendall.

The festival will also include entertainment, music and food. It will be held June 25-26 at Esther Short Park in Vancouver.

Creative ways to reuse kitchen utensils in a basket or potted plant can be found online at
thejoyfulorganizer.com/2014/04/16/gift-basket-ideas. People can also make a terrarium from an old coffee maker by adding rocks, sand and air plants, Kendall said. A guide can be viewed online at ecophiles.com/2017/09/09/diy-planters-kitchen-items.

Vintage pitchers can also be created from cooking utensils, strainers, or excess mugs and mugs, and can be used to house plants by adding a layer of crushed rock as a layer of drainage for them. containers without holes, or by adding smaller plant containers so that the water can easily drain from the larger container. Some references can be found online at Balconydecoration.com/prepare-your-balcony-for-spring-with-kitchenware-planters/.


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