How to avoid becoming the Environmental Grinch at Christmas – Orlando Sentinel



Here are seven ways to avoid becoming an environmental Grinch during the Christmas tradition of consumption, gluttony, and waste. Some are easy, some are more difficult, and some are downright daunting.

1) December marks the beginning of starvation season for manatees in central Florida along the Atlantic coast. Pollution has wiped out the seagrass they eat, leaving them vulnerable and exposed to deadly cold stress.

What to do: Support groups whose mission is to restore the state’s environment and improve conditions for wildlife, including manatees. The experts are the Save the Manatee Club of Central Florida.

“We’re counting on selfless people to demonstrate their care for manatees and our aquatic ecosystem by adopting one or more manatees as a gift,” said Pat Rose, the organization’s executive director. ” he said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 Due to frigid temperatures, manatees are taking refuge in the warm waters of Blue Springs State Park in Orange City. Blue Springs State Park expert Wayne C. Hartley counted 129 manatees in a canoe. Another park ranger who was on the trail said he counted 197 manatees living in his Blue Spring run.  (Red Hoover/Orlando Sentinel) ORG XMIT: ORL0901211343158930
Manatee at Blue Springs State Park. (Red Hoover/Orlando Sentinel)

2) Avoid pouring, washing, or scrubbing greasy, cheesy, or greasy cooking ingredients down the drain. Don’t be the guy who has to put down his Christmas dinner napkin to the local utility worker to go fix a clog in a pipeline that is his responsibility.

“There’s a misconception that you can flush grease down the drain with hot water and soap,” said Debbie Sponsler, section manager for Orange County Utilities. “The problem is that it can harden deep in the pipes and cause sanitary overflows.”

What to do: Contact your utility company, city, or county for information on how to dispose of kitchen grease.

The City of Orlando is doing everything in its power. There are 17 kiosks located throughout the city, usually at community centers, where you can pick up gallon containers, fill them and return them, or use them yourself and recycle them.

“We have contractors that will capture that oil and turn it into biofuel,” said Alyssa Madrid, the city’s sustainability coordinator. People living outside the city can also participate. “We won’t turn them away.”

Orlando received about 2,000 gallons of grease last year, and this year’s amount is no less. For more information, visit

3) This list within a list is by Clayton Ruiz Ferrara, CEO of IDEAS For Us, an action group founded in Orlando and spread internationally.

Clayton Louis Ferrara, Executive Director of IDEAS For Us, leads The Hive's monthly meetings.  Wednesday, February 1, 2017 (Sara Espedido/Orlando Sentinel)
Clayton Luis Ferrara, CEO of IDEAS For Us, said: (Sara Espedido/Orlando Sentinel)

Among his many tips on what to do: Support your community by buying local products and reduce your carbon footprint. Compost leftovers into fertile soil. Eat more local produce and heritage-bred lamb, turkey and ham from small farms. Ask for digital gifts to reduce the use of plastic, oil and supply chains. And in December, I will plant it in the garden. “It’ll be back to 85+ degrees in no time!”

4) Don’t fill your recycling bin with Christmas loot like used gift wrapping, burnt-out Christmas lights, or iPhone 14 Pros. After all, I got the 15 Pro as a gift.

What to do: To get 15, you must also include a trade-in for 14. Reusing things is one of his maxims for living lighter on earth. For other less-loved electronics, don’t recycle or throw them in the trash.

“This is considered HHW, or household hazardous waste,” said Joseph England, assistant manager of solid waste for the City of Orlando.

Discarded electronics can be taken to the Orange County Landfill or to the “Keep Orlando Beautiful” collection event held twice a year at the city’s Festival Park. ”

The next one will be Saturday, January 20th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit

The English government has said Christmas lights should not be placed in recycling bins, as they can seriously stain recycling equipment.

BOULDER, CO - DECEMBER 26: A trash can filled with wrapping paper to be recycled is seen at EcoCycle on Thursday, December 26, 2019 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Rachel Wolf/Denver Post Special Feature)
A trash can filled with used Christmas wrapping paper.

About gift wrapping: Don’t use it in the first place, or reuse it but don’t recycle it. A truckload of mixed paper can be worth less because there is too much non-paper in it.

“We want to provide the highest quality recycling to help processors succeed,” England said.

Finally, solid waste managers should remove lights and decorations and stand off the Christmas tree before placing it on the curb. Trees are mulched for a variety of purposes. An estimated 22,000 items were collected curbside from unincorporated Orange County residents last year.

5) It might be comfy, it might be nostalgic, it might be scary – but your favorite Christmas sweater might feel gross now that Central Florida has gotten so warm in December. yeah.

Things to do: Bring it to the Keep Orlando Beautiful event on January 20th. Clothing, textiles, and even shoes and stuffed animals will be accepted at this event. Visit

The company involved, American Textile Recycling Service (ATRS), has received praise from the UK. Last year’s recycling event collected more than 4,000 pounds of clothing, bedding, and more. “That’s two tons of textiles,” said Brian Papenfuss, the company’s general manager in Florida.

He urged people to consider ATRS instead of general donation locations that want to sell Primo products but don’t properly handle the leftovers. His company sorts relief supplies for the Red Cross, collects items for thrift stores and markets around the world, and provides cotton cloth to manufacturers of rags and other fabrics for production such as building insulation.

ATRS drop boxes are located throughout Central Florida and collected 2.6 million pounds last year. Call 866-900-9308 and leave a message looking for a dumpster near you.

Or, says Sponsor of Orange County, “Someone might put that sweater in an ugly sweater contest. I’m looking for them for you.”

6) Are you suffering from “plane shame” over passenger planes pumping carbon pollution into the increasingly hot atmosphere?

Things to do: Ride the new Brightline passenger train service from Orlando’s airport to South Florida. Assuming West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami are interested in traveling, trains pollute far less per passenger than jetliners.

A Brightline train from South Florida is photographed at the Brightline Station in Terminal C at Orlando International Airport on Monday, November 6, 2023. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and other dignitaries will be at the station to recognize the new Brightline connection from South Florida to Orlando and consider future options for the Tampa expansion.  (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Brightline trains at Brightline Station adjacent to Terminal C at Orlando International Airport. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Otherwise, “consider staying local and exploring your community,” Ferrara says.

And there’s an antidote to that shame: carbon offsets, which pay a few dollars a month to projects that fight climate change by reducing carbon pollution.

Please do your homework. There is an argument that some players in this space are not competent or methodical.

Research at

One group is targeting the airline industry, arguing that “we don’t have to stop traveling to make an impact on the planet. We just need to travel better.” Visit

7) Baby Boomers may not be aware of this term “climategeddon” that many Millennials and Gen Zers know or intuitively know. This is due to climate plus Armageddon, which is the equivalent of war, famine, and natural disasters caused by global warming.

Fears about climate geddon are driving young people to consider whether they need to save for the future, have children or buy a home. is.

What to do: Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health last year published their findings on the phenomenon of climate anxiety (negative cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses associated with concerns about climate change) in Current Psychology. Published in a magazine.

Naim Sadulaev, 17, from Tajikistan in Asia, picks up rubble. Behind him are Korina Borza, 15, from Romania and Zarina Kyrgizova, 17, from Kyrgyzstan. The City of Orlando participated in the 2005 Florida Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, September 17, 2005. Volunteers cleaned the shoreline of a lake in Orlando.  (Julie Fletcher/Orlando Sentinel)¤
Lake Orlando cleanup day. (Julie Fletcher/Orlando Sentinel)¤

“Participating in collective action can lessen the impact of climate change anxiety and prevent it from leading to feelings of sadness and hopelessness consistent with major depression,” said the senior writer.

Individual actions, such as recycling or turning off a light switch, may not be enough to push back fear. But joining a group or larger community to share actions to improve the environment “can be extremely powerful,” the authors said.

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