Christmas brings something more than family, good intentions and gifts. There is another face that shows a significant increase in the waste derived from gifts, a greater use of polluting batteries and an energy waste by lights and ornaments.
This was stated today by Efe the general director of Planning and Policy Coordination of the Secretary of Environment (Sedema) of Mexico City, Yolanda Alonso, who warned that during December the number of daily waste increases by 25%.
In 2016, the Sedema counted in the Mexican capital 12,920 daily tons of waste, something that could “fill every day the zócalo (the central square of the capital and the largest in Latin America) with a three-story building full of waste ”
With the Christmas increase, the waste generated rises to almost 16,000 tons per day.
This is mainly due to the purchase of gifts, since, generally, each of the gifts that are bought is accompanied by “multiple cartons inside the box itself, protective plastics”, together with the bag that contains them and the gift paper, decorated with the traditional decorative bow.
The expert considered that, if one thinks about it correctly, “most of what is bought is waste”, since “what is essential is what will be used but in return that generates almost 1 kilogram of waste”.
“Once you get the gift, all those things are not going to be used and they go straight to the waste collection process,” he said.
For this reason, he advised that for “the Christmas season the gift should be requested without wrapping or sachet” since that is what produces that 25% increase.
Given the inevitable situation, he advised “a more specific separation of waste beyond the known organic and inorganic”.
A correct separation, according to the expert, would be to differentiate the inorganic with inorganic recycling potential without recycling potential, in addition to contemplating bulky waste or special handling.
In Mexico City, almost 48% of the waste generated is produced in homes, by 26% in shops and another 14% in services.
The rest is attributed by 4% to the Central de Abasto of Mexico City (Ceda) and to the section of Miscellaneous – green areas and special management (5%) and Controlled -laboratories and medical units, among others- (3% ).
“Many of the inorganic materials that we throw away are raw materials that can be recycled, and paper, cardboard, glass, some plastics, metals, clothing and textiles can be raw materials for new products,” he said.
Other bad Christmas habits have to do with energy and pollution, especially the indiscriminate use of non-rechargeable batteries in children’s toys.
“When it comes to buying a gift for a child you have to make sure that the toy can use rechargeable batteries,” he advised, since batteries contain a huge amount of highly polluting chemicals.
The Christmas lights arranged carefully by the houses and which remain lit all day long – including the night – also involve unnecessary energy expenditure.
“Having appliances running all the time and not turn off the lights is a very strong cost of energy in economic and environmental terms,” said the specialist.
The Christmas season entails an increase in the electricity bill of around 30%.
To all this must be added a greater use of the particular vehicle given the displacements made by families to be with their loved ones, emitting more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) issued a public recommendation on these dates in which he stressed the need to decorate the tree with recycled materials, not use plastic cups or plates in the celebrations and reuse the paper with which the gifts are wrapped.
Each year, the Christmas holidays leave touching images such as firewood burning in the fireplace or the warm light of the tree caressing the family stamp.
But other images are also drawn, such as landfills crammed with waste on a planet that is increasingly suffocated and that, one more year, it seems that there will be no gifts either.