COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control encourages residents to be good stewards of the environment this holiday season by properly recycling and helping reduce food waste. Celebrations this time of year tend to also include giftwrap, packaging, decorations and other items that increase amounts of household waste.

“Unnecessary waste can be prevented if we make environmentally sound decisions while enjoying the holidays,” said Richard Chesley, DHEC’s Section Manager for the Office of Solid Waste Reduction & Recycling. “We encourage all South Carolinians to be conservative in how much food they purchase to prevent food waste and to do the same with giftwrapping paper and other items used during the holidays.”

The Don’t Waste Food SC public education campaign, which is coordinated by DHEC, the S.C. Department of Commerce and many ambassadors around the state, provides helpful resources for directing food waste out of landfills and, ideally, into the hands of a food-insecure family through local food pantries. Learn about local donation opportunities at

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Additional ways to cut back on food and food-packaging waste include:

  • Meal planning. Only buying the amount of ingredients you need for each dish helps reduce food waste.
  • Do a head count. Knowing how many people to prepare food for helps reduce the amount of prepared but unneeded food.
  • Reusable containers for leftovers. Send your guests home with leftovers in a reusable container. This helps eliminate single-use materials like plastic wrap and keeps large quantities of food from going unused and spoiling in your fridge.
  • Composting. If you can’t donate or reuse your leftovers, another option is composting. Sending food waste to a composting facility or composting at home can improve soil health and structure, increase water retention, support native plants and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. DHEC provides composting tips at

To help cut back on the amount of household waste that’s generated this holiday season, DHEC offers several tips for how to have the biggest impact with recycling:

  • Make sure to recycle right. Putting the wrong thing in the recycling bin is called “contamination.” If a load of recyclables has too much contamination, it gets thrown away instead of being recycled.
  • Know what is recyclable. What you can recycle at work may be different from what you can recycle at home, or what you can recycle if you’re visiting someone in a different county. Take a minute to learn what’s accepted for recycling wherever you are by visiting
  • Be mindful of hard-to-manage items. Some common items like lithium-ion batteries, electronics, and household hazardous waste can be recycled but should not go into your recycling bin. These items require specially handling to make sure they don’t hurt people or the environment. For help with these items, visit DHEC’s webpage about recycling hard-to-manage items or call 1-800-768-7348. For more info on safely handling and recycling batteries, go to
  • Keep it clean. Make sure items you recycle are empty and relatively clean. No liquids, food or residue should go in your recycling bin.
  • Reducing and reusing support recycling. Recycling can be supported by reducing the amount of household waste that’s generated and by reusing or repurposing items.

More information about local recycling programs, proper recycling tips, and food waste reduction efforts are all available on South Carolina’s Recycle Right SC campaign page (

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