Watching Our Wasteline: Holiday waste reduction and recycling notes for year’s end

Dec. 15, 2012 @ 02:45 PM

The Orange County Solid Waste Management team wishes our readers a very happy holiday season! The Solid Waste Convenience Centers will close early at noon on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. They will be closed on Dec. 25, and reopen Dec. 27. They will also be closed Jan. 1. The Solid Waste Administrative office at 1207 Eubanks Road will be closed Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1.
If we do have a “White Christmas” (or snow on any other day) visit the “Inclement weather” page on our website at for updates, or call our office at 919-968-2788. The phone recording will reflect any changes in the schedule due to weather or the holidays.
Curbside recycling will not be collected on Christmas Day or New Years’ Day. Service will shift to the following Saturday: Dec. 28 and Jan. 5, respectively. Garbage cans and recycling bins can both overflow this time of year, so do your best to keep it tidy by adhering to these recycling rules:
--Have your bins out by 7 a.m., or better yet the night before. Our drivers hustle to get their routes done during the holiday season, and with more people out of town, curbside recycling can be collected quickly. Drivers may be covering different routes and may drive the route in a different order so don’t count on the trucks coming at the “regular time.”
--Empty and flatten cardboard boxes, 3 feet by 3 feet or smaller, 10 or fewer at a time. Gifts and decor may arrive in boxes filled packing material, but boxes can’t be recycled that way! Remove packing material, break the boxes down flat, and stack underneath, inside or between your recycling bins to prevent blowing. Corrugated cardboard is banned from landfill disposal in Orange County, therefore it must be recycled. Most apartment complexes have cardboard Dumpsters, and our 24-hour recycling drop-off sites or solid waste convenience centers will take as many boxes as you have at one time. Bring any Styrofoam, bubble wrap or air-paks to local packaging stores such as UPS for them to reuse.
--Prepare accepted items properly. Curbside and apartment recycling is collected single-stream now. All paper, cans and bottles can go in one bin or cart. Include non-metallic wrapping paper, gift cards, newspaper, junk mail, school or office paper, newspaper, magazines, phonebooks, cereal boxes, milk, juice or other food cartons, any clean, dry paper that tears. Of course you can reuse wrapping paper. No crockery, tree ornaments, Pyrex, mirrors, drinking glass or light bulbs in recycling bins or carts, please. Never ever leave plastic bags at the curb or at apartment cart sites.
--Use the drop-off sites properly. Put all recyclables in the Dumpsters. If they’re full, try another site. Don’t leave recyclables on the ground, and never leave trash at the sites. That’s illegal dumping!
The Orange County Landfill closes at noon on Dec. 24 and reopens Dec. 26 at 7 a.m. as usual. If you’re having an oyster roast, remember to recycle your oyster shells at the County Landfill 1514 Eubanks Road from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. They will be returned to the coast to become habitat for growing new oysters. Deep frying turkeys, latkes, and other holiday foods can result in lots of extra used cooking oil. Bring that to the Orange County landfill hazardous household waste collection for recycling into biodiesel. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Bring un-served food to the IFC Community House at 100 W. Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill.
All three towns offer Christmas tree recycling at the curb as part of regular brush collection. Remove all decorations, including tinsel, and follow your town’s rules regarding length and girth of tree for collection. You can also drop your tree off at Solid Waste Convenience Centers (except Bradshaw Quarry Road) during operating hours or better yet, just toss it in the woods to become part of the landscape again.
There are more ideas than ever for how to have a “green” holiday that is not just fir trees, holly and mistletoe. Many crafty ideas cost less money, bring you closer to your local community and have a gentler impact on the earth. A set of articles penned over the past few years by Sheryl Eisenberg for the Natural Resources Defense Council provide great guidelines on gift giving, entertaining and teaching children about consumption, and can be found at
Here are some ideas from the “waste-free” school of gifting.
--Give the gift of time, as in several hours of respite for parents or other caregivers.
--Give friends and family a walking tour of your downtown, neighborhood, or favorite natural area.
--Give tickets to a theater show, musical performance or other local creative event.
--Give money on someone’s behalf to their favorite charity.
--Give an experience by teaching others (or paying for lessons) how to knit, cook culinary delights, compost, build a frame, play a musical instrument, or other special skill.
--Give wish lists to loved ones so presents are things that are truly needed and really liked.
Check out local options for green or upcycled gifts at A Remix Art Gallery ( at 105 E. Main St. in Carrboro, next to Jade Palace or Twig ( in Village Plaza in Chapel Hill near Whole Foods. Other ways to reduce waste include:
--BYOB! Bring your own bag when you shop or visit bearing gifts. Plastic bags are not recyclable in the county’s recycling program so do not put them in curbside bins, carts at apartments or at drop-off sites. Recycle clean, dry, empty plastic bags or dry cleaning bags at local grocery stores.
--BYOB! Bring your own bottle to refill with water, and a travel mug to your favorite religious service or coffee shop.
--BYOB! Bring your own box for leftovers when eating out to avoid wasteful take-out containers.
--Wrap presents in useful items such as a towel, cloth bag or scarf.
--Recycle cups, tubs, buckets, toys and other non-bottle plastics labeled #2, #4 and #5 in the purple Dumpsters at staffed solid waste convenience centers.
--“Do not rent, trade, or sell my name or address.” Say these words every time you order from a catalog or purchase a gift subscription over the phone. Write the words next to your name and address every time you fill a warranty, membership or subscription form to prevent your name and address from being spread to mail order lists.
--Use the website to get off delivery lists for mass mailing, catalogs and phonebooks.
Happy holidays!

Orange County Landfill will be closing in 201 days.