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Eco/Green: Three Ways To Make Holiday Clean-Up Safer And Healthier

The holidays are a joyous time, but they can get messy! A lot of waste is produced during the holidays – with gift wrap, packaging, and food waste at the top of the list. The clean-up after the parties and gatherings during this time can be a big hassle and extra stressful if you’re not sure how to dispose of and handle everything. Below are some tips on handling leftovers, discarding wrapping and packaging, and safely disposing of old electronics.

Take Care of Leftovers

Keeping leftovers is a delicious way to reduce food waste and getting the most out of those holiday dishes (and the money spent on them). Follow these storage and handling tips:

  • Throw away any food that has cooled and has been sitting at room temperature for over two hours
  • Bacteria will start growing on food between 4-degrees and 60-degrees Celsius
  • Contaminated food cannot always be sensed by looking at it, smelling it, or tasting it
  • Allow food to cool uncovered in the fridge in individual, shallow containers and then cover them once they’ve cooled down
  • Let hot items cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge
  • An overstocked fridge doesn’t allow air to circulate properly, so have guests take some of the food home
  • Eat leftovers in 2-3 days if they’re in the fridge, or they can be frozen for longer
  • Write a date on the leftovers as a reminder for timing
  • When thawing food, place on the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination, until ready to be re-heated
  • Cook foods immediately after they’ve finished thawing

For tips on reheating food and extra care tips, visit this Health Canada guide.

Recycling Gift Packaging

Many people are trying to do the right thing by increasing recycling efforts. However, incorrect materials can cost the city and taxpayers more money to rectify. Improper items need to be sorted back out again and this uses resources.

Food containers and others containing liquids or other contaminants can affect an entire bin so that even the correct items are ruined and can’t be recycled. It’s important to look up the recycling rules and proper handling of materials in your specific geographic area to ensure everything is getting properly recycled.

Standard gift wrap cannot be recycled, unless the label clearly says otherwise. Natural fibre paper, newsprint, and paper bags are an alternative that can be recycled. Beautifully-wrapped gifts look nice, but recipients will love the gift just as much if it comes in a reusable grocery bag! Some eco-friendly companies are making greener wrapping paper options, too.

Read the recycling rules on the panels and labels of any packaging and sort accordingly. Break down cardboard boxes, especially the highly-prized corrugated ones that your online shopping arrived in. Soiled one-time use cups, plates, and cutlery cannot be recycled because the food residue has corrupted it. Use standard plates and cutlery during the holidays.

Securely Destroy Old Electronics

When you get a new laptop, phone, or tablet, and you’re not planning on using your old one(s) any longer, it’s important to dispose of it/them correctly. You’ve likely heard of the dangers of e-waste and that it’s important to recycle your out-dated technology, but it’s also vital to completely destroy devices or drives before recycling. This can be handled by certified, data destruction professionals like Absolute Destruction & Recycling who can come to your home or office, crush the items that contain sensitive information, and then recycle them safely. This is the only way to ensure your or your company’s information cannot be retrieved again. To make the most out of your on-site appointment, gather your old documents and paper files and have them securely shredded as well!

With these three tips, your holiday clean-up will fill you with cheer and peace-of-mind.

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