Reuse and Recycle This Holiday Season

Reuse and Recycle This Holiday Season

One of my resolutions in 2015 is to create less waste whenever/wherever I can. I have taken tours of my local Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste centers to become more informed. I will share what I learned with you in the new year (stay tuned!).

Each city/county has different rules for recycling so it’s important to check with your municipality. I’m going to give general recycling tips here but they might not be correct for your area. However, what I learned on my tour that was the most powerful is that the items you put into recycle are sorted by million dollar equipment and human hands, while your trash goes right to a landfill – no one will touch it after you’ve bagged it and dumped it. I find it best to err on the side of recycling than trashing items.

Reuse and Recycle This Holiday Season

So how can you be more conscious of this during Christmas? Here are my tips for what to reuse and recycle, and what to throw in the trash.

  • Wrapping paper – recycle! Even if it has tape on it or is printed or has glitter, recycle your wrapping paper.
  • Plastic wrap or tabs – recycle! This is the stuff wrapped around cds/candy or the tabs that secure childrens’ toys.
  • Inflated plastic packers, bubble wrap or peanuts – reuse, recycle or trash! The inflated plastic packers you can deflate and recycle with your plastic grocery bags. Bubble wrap can be reused and is great for delicate ornaments or keepsakes. Most peanuts are not recyclable (but some municipalities will take them) and must be thrown in the trash. But you can save and reuse these if you send out packages often, or take them to a local post office, FedEx or UPS store to see if they can reuse them.
  • Bows – reuse or trash! Most bows can be reused, but if not, they need to go in the trash.
  • Ribbon – reuse or trash! Similar to bows, these can also be reused, or if not, placed in the trash.
  • Gift bags – reuse or donate! Save these for next year. Instead of writing names on the card attached to the bags handles, I will attach the to/from label on the tissue paper sticking out of the top. You can use these for years and years.
  • Gift tags – reuse if you can, recycle if you cannot!
  • Gift cards – recycle! Once you’ve redeemed them, recycle or turn into the store to reuse.
  • Tissue paper – reuse or recycle! I like wrapping delicate ornaments up in used tissue paper. It also makes great packing material if you’re needing to ship items just after the holidays.
  • Cardboard boxes – reuse or recycle! If you can use them again, great. If not, break them down and place in your recycle bin. Things includes boxes that come from department stores or packaging for other items you’ve been gifted.
  • Metal tins – reuse! These are excellent for packing up gifts or homemade goodies next year.
  • Tin foil – recycle! If this has caked on food, do not recycle it (throw it in the trash) but if it’s clean, it can be recycled. I’m thinking about those candy foil wrappers here.
  • Electronics – recycle or resell! You must’ve been extra good this year if you got a new computer, tablet or cell phone. Make sure to restore factory settings or wipe clean your older devices and recycle them at an e-waste facility. If you are recycling computers you will want to remove and destroy the hard drive. If these are in good condition and relatively new, you can also try to resell these items online (Gazelle, eBay, etc.).
  • Food – compost! If your municipality doesn’t provide a composting service, and you do not do it yourself for natural fertilizer, try putting these items down the garbage disposal (if your state is not in a severe drought). If you have no other choice, throw in the garbage, and try to reduce the amount of food trash you create in the new year.

The bottom line is a lot of the items we discard on Christmas morning can – and should be – reused or recycled. Please do your part and recycle what you can and reduce what you send to a landfill. Instead of thinking of it as the trash, think of it as a place where you trash goes to sit for the rest of its life. Some items will break down, others will never break down. If we each produce a little less trash each year, we can – and will – make a difference. And by this time next year, you’ll be thinking about wrapping in a whole new way: natural brown papers; raffia and baker’s twine for ribbon; there are a lot of options when you start thinking about it.

I’ll be sharing more of my tips on recycling in the new year. If you have any questions about creating less waste or recycling, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Merry Christmas!

Lauren Mang
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