Along with the joys of family, feasting and festive holiday events comes an unintended consequence: a plethora of post-celebratory leftovers—everything from turkey carcasses and Christmas wreaths to that pesky blister packaging that thwarts the gift-opening prowess of even the most dedicated member of Santa’s wish list.

But according to Eileen Mitro of Climate Action Mendocino, a little forethought and minimal commitment will substantially simplify post-holiday cleanups while also helping the environment and the local economy.

“This year we are really encouraging Ukiah residents to incorporate green composting into their holiday planning,” says Mitro. The local climate group hopes all Santa’s helpers will be good this Christmas- by learning about some of the surprising items that can be placed into residential green waste bins. By using both the blue and green bins, additional space in residents’ non-recyclable garbage can be made- an important factor given the extra amounts food, packaging and decorating materials that households accumulate during the holidays.

In addition, says Mitro, it is important that residents support Ukiah’s green waste program. “The green composting materials generated by Ukiah residents are taken to Cold Creek where they are turned into compost. We want to make sure it’s economical for our local haulers to take as much green material to the compost site as possible,” she explains.

Many people have only a partial understanding of the materials that can be placed into their green waste bin every week, according to Mitro.

“People are still confused. There are two issues- what can be recycled into your blue recycling bin and what can be composted- the items that can go into your green bin.”

Along with the obvious- grass clippings, leaves and small-diameter branches, just about any type of food should be placed into the green compost bins. “What Cold Creek accepts is different from what you might put in your backyard compost pile,” says Mitro. According to C&S Waste Solutions, food scraps, food-soiled, uncoated paper and even pizza boxes should all be placed in the green bins- what is known as “mixed organic waste.” Food scraps are identified as exactly that- veggies, fruits, meats, bones, coffee grounds, coffee filters, cooked and raw foods.

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