When it comes to living green, Material Mix founder and CEO Allison Carmen practices what she preaches. Her St. Louis-based startup focuses more on industrial recycling rather than consumer goods, but she is also an advocate of reducing consumption and recycling consumer goods in her personal life. We caught up with Allison this week to discuss her tips on how we all can recycle holiday waste between now and the new year.
Find unconventional ways to reduce waste after the holidays.
Allison says that one of the best ways to reduce waste after the holidays is to reuse gift paper, bags, and ribbions. Save them in a drawer to use on packages next year. She also recommends up-cycling items instead of throwing them out. Up-cycling is different than recycling because instead of using an item again for its intended purpose, up-cycling reuses an item for a different purpose. One great example would be to reuse ribbon as a way to decorate handmade holiday cards for next year. If you are looking for ideas to reuse holiday items, Allison suggests looking into Perennial for larger reusable items, and Trash Backwards for smaller items.
Don’t trash your Christmas tree. Instead, compost it.
Instead of throwing away your Christmas tree, chip and compost it rather than leaving it in an alley for the garbageman to pick up. “This is a huge pet peeve of mine, especially as an Oregonian,” says Allison. According to the University of Illinois, 30.8 million live Christmas trees were purchased in the U.S. in 2011.
Recycle your old and tangled Christmas lights.
In St. Louis, Allison points out that St. Louis Green is hosting a holiday light drive for people to recycle their holiday lights rather than throw them away. St. Louis Green hopes to recycle 128,000 pounds of lights this year. In 2011, the organization collected and recycled 64,000 pounds of unwanted holiday lights.
Allison’s company Material Mix is a disruptive marketplace for industrial materials that operates with the goal of recycling materials within the current waste collection industry. “We are available as a free service to find a match for any larger commodity loads – paper, plastic, metal, building material, etc. further down the waste stream. We catch the consumer goods once they are processed by a MRF (materials recovery facility) and marketed for resell to scrap traders and industrial commodity brokers,” says Allison.