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Keep your holiday celebrations green with these tips

Celebrating with your colleagues, family or friends during the holiday season often involves food, drink, gifts and… trash. Composting and recycling your trash instead of sending it all to the landfill is one of the best — and simplest — ways that you can help the environment. Making sure that we follow this sustainable practice in the office will also help UC achieve its goal of zero waste by 2020.

Multi-bin waste systems are set up throughout most UCOP offices, but a recent audit of how our staff handles their trash revealed that many people are confused about where items belong. And when trash is handled incorrectly, compost or recycling can be contaminated and must be diverted to landfills.

So before you throw away that buffet plate, please remember these guidelines:

  • Used paper napkins, plates or cardboard food containers (I’m looking at you, pizza boxes and coffee cups) are often mistaken as recyclable. In reality, these “food-soiled” paper products should go in the compost bin.
  • That last bite of cake or your double-dipped carrot stick should go in the compost as well.
  • Clean paper — including most gift wrapping, cards, envelopes and event flyers — should be recycled.
  • Plastics can be tricky. Single-use plastic bags and plastic wrap are landfill-bound so go in the trash container. But water bottles or other (rinsed!) hard plastics — including utensils, plates and cups — can be recycled.

When planning events, try to use cloth napkins and reusable dishes and cutlery if you can. When that isn’t an option, remember that every small act of conservation helps UC and the planet.

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