The holidays may be the most wonderful time of year, but they’re also the most wasteful. With parties, decorations, gift giving and travel, Americans generate 25% more waste than average between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That equals almost 1,000 pounds of trash per household!
But much of what is thrown away during the holidays can be recycled or re-purposed. Here are a few simple times for resident to incorporate environmentally responsible practices into celebrations and family gatherings.
- Save and reuse gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year.
- Shipping gifts? Make shredded paper out of old newspapers and magazines, or reuse last year’s bubble wrap and foam peanuts.
- Think twice when it comes to wrapping paper. Standard wrapping paper can be recycled, but anything with glitter or foil belongs in the trash – or save it for next year! Generally, the fancier the wrapping paper, the less recyclable it is.
- Getting a new device this holiday season? Make sure your old phone or tablet does not get tossed in with the recycling. Check with your local service provider for any special instructions or electronics recycling options.
Know what to throw
With all those extra packages and materials during the holidays, it’s important to make sure you’re putting the right things in your recycling container.
Paper & Cardboard:
- Flattened cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper and common mail can be recycled as long as they aren’t contaminated by food, liquid or waste.
- The gifts were a big hit and now it’s time to clean up. Whether you gave toys or tools, housewares or hockey sticks, the packages are often made of mixed materials. Be sure to separate the cardboard backing from the plastic windows before placing them individually in your recycling container.
- Sticky gift tags are too small to recycle by themselves, but they can be recycled if they’re still stuck to an envelope, wrapping paper, or a paper gift bag.
- Before recycling food and drink cans, remove paper or plastic labels and clean out any residual materials.
- Lots of parties means lots of food! Metal cans are usually recyclable, but not if they have an insulated coating. When in doubt, throw it out!
- All those holiday meals will result in plenty of dishes to wash, so don’t fret over thoroughly cleaning your recyclables. Just be sure to give them a good rinse and place them in your container when they’re dry so they don’t contaminate other items.
- While hard plastic containers like water bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers can go in your container, flexible plastics like grocery bags, bubble wrap and Styrofoam require special handling and can’t be recycled curbside.
- Eggnog and flavored creamers make the holidays extra delicious! Better yet, the plastic containers they come in, and other containers like them, are recyclable. The lids, however, are too small to recycle by themselves, so either put them back on the containers or throw them away.
- The poke test is just as accurate during the holidays: if you can poke your finger through the plastic, it doesn’t belong in your recycling container.
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