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A green Christmas in Saskatoon: reducing waste during the holidays

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WATCH ABOVE: About 100,000 tonnes of garbage is sent to the Saskatoon landfill each year. Wendy Winiewski looks at some simple steps that could help make for a greener Christmas – Dec 19, 2017

Each year, Saskatonians send roughly 100,000 tonnes of garbage to the landfill.

This year, the City of Saskatoon is asking people to “make memories, not garbage.”

READ MORE: Waste reduction, recycling options in Saskatoon for holiday celebrations

“We actually do an extra garbage pick-up the week between Christmas and New Year’s and that’s because people’s bins really fill up,” said Amber Weckworth, the city’s education and environmental performance manager.

In 2016, garbage crews picked up 1,036,000 kilograms of garbage between Dec. 26 and 30, through 41,100 bin tips. The week prior to Christmas, there were 654,000 kilograms collected through 27,500 bin tips. The average bin weighed an additional 1.5 kilograms in the days following Christmas compared to the days prior.

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While many are hoping for a white Christmas, Naomi Mihilewicz is dreaming of a green Christmas.

“The biggest sources of waste would be throw away gifts, throw away trees and throw away cutlery and paper plates and stuff,” said Mihilewicz, who is with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council.

Naomi Mihilewicz says natural and artificial trees are both good options so long as they’re dealt with properly. Tyler Schroeder/Global News

Mihilewicz suggested buying gifts only if the recipient genuinely wants the item. Other options include giving experiences rather than material items such as a pass to a zoo, or a day of snow shoeing.

The Waste Reduction Council of Saskatchewan (WRCS) encourages consumers to opt for reusable paper gift bags over wrapping paper. When it comes to an artificial tree made of plastic, or a real one to be disposed of, the WRCS promotes either, so long as they’re dealt with properly.

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“If you’re a home owner and you’re likely to reuse a purchased Christmas tree over and over and over again,” Mihilewicz said, “by all means, go get something you’re going to use for its full life extent.”

READ MORE: Once Upon a Christmas display opens at Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum

In 2016, roughly 5,000 Christmas trees were taken to the City of Saskatoon’s drop-off locations to be processed into mulch and compost.

In 2016, roughly 5,000 real trees were taken to the city’s drop-off locations.

“They’ll be turned into beautiful compost that can be used in city parks,” Weckworth said.

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