A less wasteful season requires planning

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is another in a series of recycling tips from the City of Covington's Neighborhood Services Department, Solid Waste & Recycling Division.)

COVINGTON, Ky. –  When planning for this holiday, make sure to think about the 5 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle.

The order of the five R's represents the order of importance. Each “R” makes its own impact on our environment.

·      Refusing to purchase or use products made from and packaged in hard-to-recycle plastics ensures less waste ends up in the landfills and encourages businesses to stop covering their products with unnecessary packaging.  

·      Reducing your consumption of new and single-use products.

·      Reusing items that still work for their intended purpose.

·      Repurposing items to fit the need of another purpose instead of buying new. 

·      Recycling items that are no longer serving you and that are at the end of their life.

Here are some more specific tips and suggestions:

Refuse: The best way to have less waste is to not create it in the first place.

·      Refuse Single-Use Items During the Holidays. Use reusable dishes and silverware for holiday parties. Bring your own reusable silverware, straw, and cup to an office party or restaurant.

·      Gift an Experience. Consider gifting an "experience" or a memory to some of your loved ones that they can keep forever. An experience will never get re-gifted or thrown away, and it won't get lost in the many other presents they get.

·      Refuse Plastic Packaging. Purchase foods from local grocers where items like potatoes and kale are not contained in excessive packaging. Refuse plastic bags at all store checkouts -- reusable bags aren't just for the grocery.

Reduce: Only buy what you need.

·      Make a Shopping List of Items You Need: Planning ahead and making a list is helpful when preparing family dinners, d├ęcor, and gifts. Arriving at the store with a plan prevents impulse buying or over-buying.

·      Decorating: Consider getting decorations and upcycling items from second-hand/thrift stores or use nature to decorate your house. Things like pinecones, sticks, evergreen cuttings, and holly cuttings can be arranged to become beautiful decorations and can be composted after the season is over.

·      Buy Items with Less Packaging. Avoid purchasing products that are over-packaged.

·      Buy Items Second Hand. Some second-hand items are as good as new. Consider trying out apps like Freecycle and Facebook Market Place, which lists what is available locally.

Reuse: Keep the old.

·      Clothes Swap: Instead of buying a new outfit for this year's holiday parties, consider doing a clothes swap.

·      Old Furniture: Find someone who might want it, then offer painting or re-staining it as their gift this year.

·      Save holiday bags, tissue wrapping paper, boxes, bows and ribbons and reuse them year after year.

Repurpose: Use something old and make it into something completely new.

·      Old T-Shirts: Cut it up, dye it, and turn it into a garland.

·      Scrap Paper: Paint it and turn it into a garland or a snowflake.

·      Glass Jars: Starter kits for growing plants, or candle holders, storage containers, etc.

Recycle: It is important to recycle but keep in mind that it should be used as a last resort.

·      Properly prepare items for recycling (rinse, empty and flatten where necessary) and do not bag recyclables but always keep them loose in your cart. Keep an eye out for recyclable items made of cardboard, cartons, paper, metal cans, glass, plastic bottles, jugs, and tubs.