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Waste Reduction Tips for the Holiday Season

Statistics show that the amount of trash people generate skyrockets during the holiday season. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe sat down with a Springfield waste management expert, and reports on how you can limit your waste output.

Barbara Lucks is the Sustainability Officer with the Department of Environmental Services in Springfield. When I asked her why people tend to be so wasteful during the holidays, her answer was simple: It’s habit.

“Unfortunately, an awful lot of our favorite Christmas traditions don’t always necessarily lend themselves to waste reduction. Sometimes, we have a tendency to revert back to those wonderful old traditions of cooking too much food and having too much wrapping paper, kind of an excess of everything, and it all contributes to this waste skyrocketing,” Lucks said.

Lucks offers up several tips to reduce waste this holiday season, and says it all starts with food consumption. She says taking a head count prior to your big family meal will limit the amount of food being wasted. She urges people to dispose of their cooking oil properly; store it in a container until it’s ready to be thrown away rather than dumping it down the drain or in the yard. She also recommends composting your food scraps.

“Potato peelings, any kind of vegetative, like salads and greens, all of those types of things can very easily be composted. The meats are items you don’t want in a home backyard compost because they attract varmints as they say, and it also can create odors. Then there’s a pathogen issue in a backyard compost with meats,” Lucks said.

Lucks warns of the presence of lead in old style Christmas lights and candles, as well as colored wrapping paper. She recommends reducing these toxic holiday items by purchasing LED Christmas lights and soy based candles, and giving gifts in either reused gift bags or old newspapers.

Lucks says Springfield has long had a strong commitment to recycling: there are more than 125 recycling centers and local businesses in Springfield that take items for recycling. You can recycle anything from Christmas trees to old electronic devices to much of the product packaging that comes with many gifts. This will help cut down on the waste in landfills, which receives about 6,000 new tons of waste every day. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.

TAG: For more information on what can be recycled and where to take it, visit the city’s website at