Don’t be naughty, be nice (with your Christmas leftovers)

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There are always so many leftovers from Christmas and the holidays. Cookies (haha just kidding, these aren’t ever left over), gift wrap and packaging, ham, tofurkey, burnt out lights, last minute gifts you thought were a good idea and then you realized oh no, this won’t work, and so on. What to do with it all? We are here to help!

Christmas decorations, lights, boxes, etc (more info here from Hillsborough County Recycling)

Did you read this story about the bubblewrap shipment? NOT REALLY HELPING, AMAZON!

I usually clean my styrofoam containers and recycle them at the grocery store (Publix) with the plastic bags. Don’t put plastic bags in recycling bins!!!! They gum up the machinery. Plastic bags are the No. 1 problem at sorting facilities where they get caught in the sorting equipment and then need to literally be cut out and removed manually at the end of each day. Ultimately they end up in a landfill. They can be recycled at grocery stores.

Unopened Food or Personal Items

Here is a list of Tampa Bay food banks and other services for those in our community who have been left behind. You might have food items that haven’t been opened that they can use, or personal items like shampoo, razors, soap, makeup, etc that also hasn’t been opened. There is someone out there that can use it. You might want to call or go online before bringing stuff over to a food bank or homeless service place to make sure they are open and can receive it. Christmas is 12 days long! Lots of time to share with others. 

The Tampa Bay area is one of the first in the country to get the Waste No Food app, for both Apple and Android devices. It allows charities to arrange pickups of donated food anywhere from a one time incident to a weekly or daily basis. They probably can’t use food that has been opened, but if you have boxes of stuff that you aren’t going to use, you can arrange a pickup. 

If you do a big purge at the end of the year and get rid of clothing, shoes, linens, kitchen items, etc., there are a lot of organizations that can get them quickly to those in need. Just in case you need to remind someone – make sure everything is washed or wiped down before donating it. One great organization which helps women have decent outfits to wear to job interviews (and work when they get it!) is Dress for Success. The Miss Minimalist website has a pretty good, though nationally focused, list of where you can donate pretty much anything. I love the end of the year purge – it gets us ready for the new year and we are doing good with all our shedding. 

Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum, it is time to get rid of you…

Growing up I HATED the part where the Christmas tree got taken down and tossed. It was like slapping kittens to me. But it’s the tree! I love it! and also, each piece of tinsel had to be taken off; each ornament removed and wrapped; each bead and strand put away to my mother’s liking. The tree still smelled wonderful. If you are one of the super conscious people who got a live tree for Christmas and then will plant it, YAY YOU! You’re the best. As much as I wish we didn’t have the Christmas tree industrial complex, we do, and here is how to toss the symbol of everlasting life.     

If you have a yard, you can just put the tree out into it. Make it an environment for the birds, or grind it up and make it mulch. If that won’t work, click on your county below. Most of the counties have curbside pick up. Not all the info is up yet, but these links below have the best info as of today.

Hillsborough info *** Pinellas info (it’s old but still applicable) *** Pasco info *** Sarasota info *** Manatee info *** Polk info *** Hernando info 

What about all the food in the fridge that we are going to donate to our bellies?

There are a lot of yummy ways to use up leftovers. First we will start with a mish-mosh of leftover desserts and baked good. What can you make? Why not a version of bread pudding? Here is a recipe for a sweet bread pudding using up the dessert leftovers. Mary Bergin’s Pastry Shop Bread Pudding

You can also do a similar dish but as a savory version, using up leftover meat, vegetables, etc. You would use the same bread amount, and then cut the sugar, half the cream, and put in your other leftovers. Just make sure that the flavors in either recipe will harmonize with each other.

Some neighborhoods or groups have a leftover night on Boxing Day or the day after. It is a lovely way to get rid of everything and try someone else’s home cooking. You can also do a food swap with friends and neighbors. It is so much better than throwing all of the food away.  This report in the NY Times earlier this month stated that in countries like the USA and Canada, we throw away 40% of all our food. There is this unnecessary truth:

The United States as a whole wastes more than $160 billion in food a year.

Waste used to be an immoral thing, and that is one moral measurement I wouldn’t mind returning to our daily lives. 

Thank you so much for the joke underwear!

There is a small chance you might get a gift that isn’t exactly your taste. Or that you don’y want/need/ or are frightened of… Of course you can put it away, marked for regifting (just put a note on it as to who gave it to you). You can sell it on Craigslist. Or you can donate it to a charity, because some one out there might want/need/embrace it. If you do it before the end of the year, you can estimate the value of your donation on your taxes, if you itemize. There is a thrift store for almost any type of charity – animals, or these animals, women & families, hospice, building or home materials, LGBTQ, and if you have some blankets, or socks, or other items, Blanket Tampa Bay can take them. 

Everyone here at WMNF wishes for you and yours a joyous celebration, and to our community and the whole planet, peace and prosperity for all.