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Need some help going green for the holidays?

Here at Keep Columbus Beautiful, we can help you with that. During this wonderful time of the year, we unknowingly create so much waste. This can be anything from our meals to shopping and all the way to our Christmas tree. I put together some recycling tips to help be a little more green during this holiday season.

First, and my personal favorite, let’s talk food! Yummy, right? You’re probably wondering, ‘Food? How am I going to go green with my food?’ It’s really pretty simple. Store your leftovers and make sure someone eats them. That’s not all though, there are a lot of misconceptions about labeling on your food products. The terms ‘sell by,” “use by,” and “best by” have little or nothing to do with product safety, but instead denote the date through which manufacturers guarantee perceived freshness.

This is commonly misunderstood by consumers and many items are tossed when that date is reached. You’re probably thinking, ‘well it can’t possibly be that much but actually food waste accounts for a whopping 40 percent of all waste!’ That’s nearly 400 pounds for every American. There are so many tips on food storage, labeling and reducing food waste that our column can’t share it all in, but feel free to check out this amazing website for more information: www.savethefood.com.

Next, let’s talk shopping! Shop local, help support our local economy - this also reduces gas emissions. Remember to keep your reusable shopping bags in the vehicle so you have them while making your holiday purchases. Plastic bags are recyclable, however, on average plastic bags are only used for 12 minutes and only 1 percent is returned for recycling.

In America, we use about 100 billion plastic bags annually. You read that right - BILLION, not million. So, by using your reusable bags you're helping cut down on plastic pollution and reducing the number of barrels of oil it takes to make those plastic bags.

And last but not least, your beautiful Christmas tree. Going green is really simple as the City of Columbus offers free Christmas tree recycling every year at Ag Park. The trees are used for various uses, some are mulched while others are placed in lakes to provide habitats for the wildlife.

It’s a wonderful time of the year. Everyone enjoys gifts but consider gifting your time as it is the best gift you can give anyone. I would like to take the time to thank our board members for the gift of their time during this holiday season. Thank you for all you do!

We at Keep Columbus Beautiful would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Vanessa Oceguera is the executive director of Keep Columbus Beautiful. Her column will be published in The Columbus Telegram every second Friday of the month.

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