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RethinkWaste Holiday Show Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Holiday Show on December 11, 2020. This page provides the webinar recording, presentation slides, links to more resources, and all of the questions submitted by attendees. If you have additional questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

We know the holidays are usually a pretty wasteful time so we put on this informative webinar to give tips on how to reduce waste this holiday season. We also spread some cheer with waste-related carols and had a fun and informative round of trivia.

We hope you find the following resources helpful in your personal journey to reduce waste this holiday season.

To view a recording of the webinar and the live Q&A, click the recording below.

1. Where does tinsel go?

Ideally you can reuse it and keep it in your decorations box to reuse every year, but otherwise, it has to be landfilled.

2. Are Christmas lights recyclable?

Yes! But NOT in your regular recycle cart or bin. Christmas lights contain precious materials that can still be recycled, you just have to bring them to certain drop-off locations that take them back. Places like GreenCitizen (located in Burlingame), Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware all accept string lights. You can even consider donating them to thrift stores, if they are still in good working condition.

3. What do you think about using all the little scraps of wrapping paper? You can tape the scraps together to wrap a gift. It uses a lot of tape, but wastes less paper.

Tough question! Since those scraps of wrapping paper can be recycled, and the tape cannot, we recommend simply recycling those little scraps rather than using lots of tape to put the scraps together.

4. Is glue more environmentally friendly than tape? Could you use water-soluble glue to decoupage a package with small leftover scraps of paper?

Another tough question, because it can be difficult to clearly distinguish which is more environmentally friendly. When it comes to either using glue or tape, there is probably a little bit of a difference in the environmental impact, but there is nothing that leads us to believe one alternative is much better than the other. If choosing between the two option, use whichever you are comfortable with. But to really lower your environmental impact, we recommend minimizing your use of both glue and tape.

5. Do you have any zero waste ideas for gifts for pets?

One zero waste idea that works great for pets is homemade treats! We recommend whipping up a special batch of treat made with extra love for the pets in your family.

6. What can I do with my holiday tree?

For residents that live in a single-family household, remove all the tinsel, lights, decorations, and stands from your holiday tree, and then you can leave it next to your green Compost Cart and Recology will pick it up for you between January 2 and January 31 on your regular collection day. Make sure if your tree is larger than 8 feet to cut it in half before leaving it next to your green Compost Cart.

For residents that live in apartments or condos, your property manager has to arrange for collection of holiday trees so feel free to remind them to schedule it!

If you don’t live in the RethinkWaste Service Area, check with your local hauler to know your collection schedule.

7. If my regular collection day falls on Christmas or New Year’s, when will my waste get picked up?

There’s no collection services on Christmas or New Year’s and collection will be moved one day to Saturday 12/26 and Saturday 1/2. Regular collection will resume the week after New Year’s Day.

If you have more questions, fill out the form below!

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Plastic: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a webinar about plastic on October 27, 2020. This page provides the webinar recording, presentation slides, links to more resources, and all of the questions submitted by attendees. If you have additional questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Learning the history of plastic and staying informed on the issues it brings in our own community is the first step to face the plastic crisis. We hope you find the following resources helpful in making informed decisions when it comes to plastic, curbing your own plastic use, and supporting plastic legislation.

To view a recording of the webinar and the live Q&A, click the recording below.

1. Where does tinsel go?

Ideally you can reuse it and keep it in your decorations box to reuse every year, but otherwise, it has to be landfilled.

4. Is glue more environmentally friendly than tape? Could you use water-soluble glue to decoupage a package with small leftover scraps of paper?

Another tough question, because it can be difficult to clearly distinguish which is more environmentally friendly. When it comes to either using glue or tape, there is probably a little bit of a difference in the environmental impact, but there is nothing that leads us to believe one alternative is much better than the other. If choosing between the two option, use whichever you are comfortable with. But to really lower your environmental impact, we recommend minimizing your use of both glue and tape.

5. Do you have any zero waste ideas for gifts for pets?

One zero waste idea that works great for pets is homemade treats! We recommend whipping up a special batch of treat made with extra love for the pets in your family.

6. What can I do with my holiday tree?

For residents that live in a single-family household, remove all the tinsel, lights, decorations, and stands from your holiday tree, and then you can leave it next to your green Compost Cart and Recology will pick it up for you between January 2 and January 31 on your regular collection day. Make sure if your tree is larger than 8 feet to cut it in half before leaving it next to your green Compost Cart.

For residents that live in apartments or condos, your property manager has to arrange for collection of holiday trees so feel free to remind them to schedule it!

If you don’t live in the RethinkWaste Service Area, check with your local hauler to know your collection schedule.

5. How is it possible for 1000 tons of plastic to accidentally enter the ocean through SMC residents?

This statistic was found by research conducted through the Thrive Alliance. Here is the link to the report if you are interested in learning more: https://www.thrivealliance.org/env-news-blog/storyofplastic.

6. I participated in the Coastal Clean Up day, which due to COVID-19, was held within our respective communities. After 90 minutes we had 6 large bags of trash. At the end of the pickup, we drove to the Rethink collection center. The fee at the drop off center was substantial. Would RethinkWaste consider a partnership with Coastal Clean Up where residents within the JPA get a discount on this day?

This has not been previously considered, but please contact us directly at info@rethinkwaste.org. Note that there are mechanisms in place where cities can collect the waste picked up during public cleanup events such as Coastal Cleanup and have it collected by the waste hauler.

7. In addition to the Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance, what local initiatives, organizations or resources would you recommend for folks looking to help create change around plastic in San Mateo County?

8. Do you currently have an established program to communicate with San Mateo/Foster City area restaurants not to use the black plastic specifically? If not, we are thinking maybe my local community can volunteer to help.

We do not, but reach out to us and we can help. We also recommend reaching out to the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability via their Sustainability Academy.

9. How about the #4 soft plastic that you can drop off at Safeway. Does that get recycled?

This depends. The drop-off recycling program at grocery stores for flimsy plastics like plastic bags and plastic wrap are completely independent programs. For us at RethinkWaste, we no longer collect plastic bags at the Shoreway Public Recycling Center because we haven’t been able to find any markets for it. As we noted earlier, items are only recyclable if someone will purchase the material and recycle it into something else. These other programs may have markets, but it really depends by location. Check with your local store to inquire about where their collected flimsy plastics currently go.

10. Who do I speak to about getting recycling into the medical field, specifically who is producing these disposable items?

Our advice would be to do your research and seek help when possible. If you know anyone that works at your local clinic or hospital, they could connect you to the person in charge of purchasing. Also, you can do research on the supplies that are used in the medical field and the manufacturers to see if there are other options instead of disposable or if there are takeback/recycling options for these supplies.

11. If you do a full life-cycle analysis to consider plastic alternatives, how does it pencil out in terms of carbon footprint and GHGs considering glass and metal weighs more than plastic so shipping products in glass etc. may actually be a bigger footprint?

We do not have an answer to this question. However, here is a good article about the differences between glass, metal, and plastic packaging: https://earth911.com/living-well-being/recycled-beverage-containers/.

If you have more questions, fill out the form below!

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Sustainable Gift Guide

For this holiday season, you can find many different ways to be more sustainable when gifting presents to loved ones, from gifting experiences, being more mindful of the gifts you purchase, and wrapping those gifts sustainably.

Gifting Experiences

Gifting experiences is a great way to reduce waste this holiday season! Instead of buying more material things, you can gift an experience your loved ones will never forget!

  • Sports events tickets
  • Movie Tickets
  • Ski Resort Passes or Tickets
  • Museum Memberships or Tickets
  • Gym Memberships
  • Escape Room Tickets
  • Donations to Charities
  • Time Together
  • Restaurant Gift Certificate
  • Theater Tickets
  • Adopt a Whale, a Seal, or a Bat
  • Amusement Park Passes
  • Homemade Coupon for Dinner, a Car Wash, or Babysitting
  • Train or Bus Passes
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Woodworking Classes
  • Online Subscriptions for Music, Video, Games, Newspapers, E-books, or Newspapers/Magazines

Mindful Gifting

This year when you’re buying gifts for your loved ones, be sure to gift something you think they need or will be very useful to them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what your friends and family are interested in receiving this year. You want to make sure the gift you get is something they will like and not something that will end up going to the landfill.

  • Repurpose or upcycle it! If you have something you aren’t going to use anymore, try repurposing it in a gift for someone else. Or upcycle some old shirts to make a reusable bag, or a broken garden hose to make a gift basket.
  • Take the taboo out of thrifting a gift! Check out your local thrift store to put together a custom curation of gifts or something unique that you wouldn’t find in a department store.
  • Make it reusable! Build a reusable kit to encourage reuse and eliminate single-use items. Your kit can include reusable utensils, straws, silicone bags, produce bags, shopping bags, collapsible containers, reusable food wrap, etc.
  • Consumable gifts like baked goods, wine, fair trade chocolate, soap, shampoo bar, coffee or tea are great gifts that help to fill tummies or shelves!
  • Support local businesses this year when purchasing your gifts! Go into a local shop you haven’t been to before and look for a unique gift for your friends and family.
  • Get it clean! If are purchasing a gift, try looking for organic or ethical items this time. This can apply for clothes, consumables, you name it!

Sustainable Wrapping

Find more sustainable ways to wrap presents this year!

  • Instead of using wrapping paper, try using an old magazine or newspaper to wrap your gifts instead.
  • If you do get wrapping paper, try to get the ones that are paper based and do not have a shiny coating. Shiny or glitter-coated wrapping paper is not recyclable.
  • If you don’t feel like using wrapping paper, a paper bag and tissue paper also get the job done!

No matter if you adopt one of these tips or all of them, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season this year!