Going green for the holiday season

The Best Times Digital Edition

Oct. 25, 2021

By Brandon Hearn

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans generate more than 25% more trash. With the large quantity of holiday cards, wrapping paper, trees, lights and ornaments in addition to all the packaging and boxes, it is no wonder that this is the most wasteful, albeit wonderful, time of year.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Johnson County Department of Health and Environment wants to wish residents a “Happy Holidays” while helping the environment. 

Holiday Lights: You no longer need to throw away your broken holiday lights. Starting in December there will be several locations accepting holiday lights for recycling. The Overland Park Recycling Center will accept holiday lights in December and January. Westlake Ace Hardware locations will also accept lights, and the Mission Sustainability Commission will be collecting lights at the Sylvester Powell Community Center and Mack’s True Value Hardware, dates may vary. For more information, visit recyclespot.org.

Trees: Keep your Christmas tree out of the landfill. Natural trees are collected in several locations around Johnson County. By recycling your natural tree, you are providing a second home as a fish habitat or mulch for a park. Overland Park will also be accepting natural trees for recycling at several locations from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 26 through Jan. 9. Locations can be found at opkansas.org/events/holiday-tree-recycling. Check with your city to find a convenient way to recycle your tree.

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation District will also offer drop off options between Dec. 26-Jan. 31 at Big Bull Creek Park, Theatre in the Park parking lot at Shawnee Mission Park, the Heritage Park marina and the Kill Creek Park marina. For more information, visit the Department of Health and Environment.

Continue to Ditch the Bag: Bagging your recyclables in plastic trash bags can result in your recyclables going to the landfill. Plastic bags and wraps are not accepted in your curbside recycling. Why? Because these materials get caught in machinery at the recycling facility and lower the value of other recyclables. Ensure that your recycling efforts don’t go to waste by keeping plastic bags, product wrap and other plastic wraps and films out of your recycle bin. For more info on how you can ditch the bag visit jocogov.org/recycling101.

Start a Recycling/Sustainability Program: Johnson County Government offers a free consulting program that can help you start a recycling, waste reduction, or sustainability program. Staff will work with any business, school, church, or senior living facility in Johnson County.

Compost your food waste: Reduce your food waste in the new year by composting your food scraps and waste. Backyard composting is a wonderful option, but doesn’t work for everyone.

There are now three companies in Johnson County that will pick up your food waste, in five-gallon buckets, from your house or business and take it away to be composted. These companies are: FoodCycle KC (foodcyclekc.com), Compost Collective KC (compostcollectivekc.com), and KC Can Compost (kccancompost.com).

Recycling is important, but remember to reduce, reuse and then recycle to help our planet in 2022 and beyond. If you have any other questions, please contact Brandon Hearn at 913-715-6936 or [email protected]. Follow us on Facebook at Johnson County Recycles.

Brandon Hearn is environmental specialist at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.