County Connections: Lancaster-Fairfield Community Action ready for your holiday recycling

2021-12-25 08:37:12 By : Ms. Joa Huang

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something,” – Edward Everett Hale

Though this season is often a time of celebration, the festive foil, boxes and bows can come at a higher cost than the gifts they adorn.

“The holidays are a time of joy, but they can also be a time of waste,” states Keri Murphy, Environmental Education Specialist with the Lancaster-Fairfield Community Action Recycling Center.

However, there are local resources offering easy ways to mitigate our environmental impact – keeping our local communities sustainable throughout the holidays and beyond.

The Lancaster-Fairfield Community Action Recycling Center processes over 7 million pounds of materials every year – all of which is sorted by hand. And while this is a staggering amount of work, it is a burden that the Community Action team is happy to undertake, because every recycled item reduces the litter in our local streets.

“This is a near and dear passion to me. I can talk trash all day,” Murphy laughed.

For those looking to reduce the environmental impact of holiday activities, Murphy has valuable guidance to share.

“The kitchen is always a great place to start, since we want people to reduce waste first and recycle second,” she explained.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, buying in bulk can be an excellent strategy for reducing household waste, reducing store trips, as well as the relative amount of packaging utilized. Also, some containers, like glass jars, can be washed and re-used for food storage, saving money in the process.

Remaining aluminum cans, empty jars, cardboard boxes, plastic jugs and many other items can be recycled at the Community Action Recycling Center, located at 1743 East Main Street in Lancaster, or one of the twenty-four Fairfield County Residential Recycling locations throughout the county. Furthermore, as Murphy notes, labels do not need to be removed from recyclables, though rinsing out containers is appreciated.

Regarding holiday specific waste prevention, cardboard and paperboard gift boxes can be readily recycled, as can wrapping paper and holiday cards comprised entirely of paper. Cards and wrapping materials with glitter, foil, or other adornments cannot be recycled through the Community Action Recycling Center at this time.

Batteries can also be recycled at the main Community Action facility, as well as at all branches of the Fairfield County District Library. Those wishing to pursue this option are encouraged to tape the ends of the batteries to reduce the likelihood of a spark.

The most surprising recyclable holiday item is holiday lights, which are manually disassembled by the Community Action team, salvaging copper wire and other reusable components.

Though, as Murphy acknowledges, not all residents have transportation to Fairfield County’s recycling sites, there are businesses that offer recycling pick up services, making sustainability more accessible for many community members.

Kurbside with Kenny will collect recyclables from homes throughout the county, while Glass City Recycling serves the Lancaster area primarily. Both services charge a modest fee of $20 or less each month. However, even with curbside pickup, there is a bit of a science to recycling.

“It’s important to avoid wish-cycling,” Murphy affirmed.

This practice refers to the habit of placing items that may not be recyclable, such as plastic toys, paper coffee cups, Solo cups, napkins, greasy pizza boxes, and used paper plates into recycling bins in the hope that they can be processed. While this mistake is often made with the best intentions, it can result in a worse environmental impact than simply throwing the item away.

Placing non-recyclable items – or greasy, dirty items – in recycling bins can damage equipment and may contaminate batches of recyclables. The result can cost local recycling centers thousands of dollars in costly repairs, and force entire batches of recyclables to be thrown away. With this in mind, it is always wise to call ahead, or look online, to see if something can be safely recycled.

If all this information seems overwhelming, Murphy affirms that all efforts matter and that simply starting somewhere is a success worth celebrating.

And for those looking for a place to start, as an individual, civic group, or business, Murphy mentions The Plastic Bottle Cap Project, which converts plastic bottle caps into plastic park benches throughout the county. Though it can take up to two months for a group to gather enough caps, the result is a lasting testament to the power of community, all while protecting our local ecosystem.

“Slow and steady wins the race, and every small thing you do will add up. You may not feel like you are helping the world, but you really are,” Murphy concluded.

For more information about The Plastic Bottle Cap Project or the Lancaster-Fairfield Community Action Recycling Center, please visit or contact Murphy directly at 740-205-8027.

Through Dec. 31, from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., don’t miss the 2021 Drive thru Christmas Lights Display, located at Christmas Lights Extravaganza (3495 McDonald Rd SW) in Lancaster. Free of charge, this drive through lights display is open seven days a week. For more information, visit 2021 Drive thru Christmas Lights Display on Facebook.

Through Jan. 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., don’t miss A Victorian Christmas at The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio. Event will feature Christmas trees complete with 19th-century ornaments and Victorian-era toys, as well as a glimpse into the holiday home décor and fashion of the period. Admission is free and donations are accepted. For more information, visit

Thank you for sharing your feedback with me! Please continue to email me at!