Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8CALIFORNIA LIFE


It's a common holiday complaint: There's so much waste wrappings that a gift sometimes gets lost or thrown out with the trash.

One solution: Cut down on the waste.

According to California's Department of Resources Recovery and Recycling (CalRecycle), Americans pile up 25 percent more trash than normal between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. That adds up to 25 million tons of garbage nationwide in just five weeks.

The waste includes an estimated 38,000 miles of ribbon – enough to tie a bow around the Earth.

"The amount of garbage sent to the landfill increases dramatically during the holiday season," said Doug Eubanks of Sacramento County's Department of Waste Management and Recycling. "We can change the traditional holiday habit of tearing open presents and throwing away wrapping paper and cardboard. We can recover these materials if residents use their curbside recycling program."

Most nonmetallic wrapping paper is recyclable. So are greeting cards, envelopes, calendars, cardboard and gift boxes. Just put them in your recycle bin.

Cutting down on wrappings also helps the no-waste effort. Consider re-using paper, boxes, ribbon and bows for more than one season. Give gifts that need little or no wrapping (such as a gift card). Or wrap the gift in another gift, such as a reusable shopping bag or dish towel.

It's not just paper that adds up. The number of discarded bottles and cans skyrockets, too.

Statewide, about 100 million plastic water bottles will end up in the trash during the holiday season. If recycled, those water bottles would provide enough fiber to make 48,000 sweaters or 220,000 square feet of carpeting, according to CalRecycle.

For more tips on how to cut down your holiday waste, click on www.holidayrecycling.com.


• Happy winter solstice and a new season! Friday was the shortest day of the year – which means this weekend is a great time to plant garlic and onions for harvest next summer.

• Just because it rained recently doesn't mean every plant in your garden got watered. Remember to give a drink to plants that rain doesn't reach, such as under eaves or evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants. If nighttime temperatures are expected to plummet, make sure your tender plants are saturated before the sun goes down.

• Poinsettias and cyclamens – traditional holiday gift plants – will last longer if placed in a warm sunny location away from heating vents or drafts. Poke holes in the foil wrapper for drainage and place the potted plant on a plate or saucer.

• Bring in branches of pyracantha, holly, toyon or other berry-bearing foliage to decorate your home. Also good are boughs of cedar, pine, redwood, fir, juniper, spruce, cypress or other evergreens.

• Plant bulbs such as daffodils, callas and Dutch iris.

– Debbie Arrington

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