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January 02, 2017

‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY RECYCLING TIPS

We love getting in the Christmas spirit by decorating our home with an oversized tree, giving our loved ones beautifully wrapped gifts, and sending holiday cards to friends and family near and far. We’re usually so excited the holidays have arrived that we tend to forget about all of the extra waste we create during this time of year.

It’s estimated that over 1 million tons of additional waste is generated each week during the holiday season and over 2.6 million holiday cards are sold, most of which end up in the trash and not in RE.BIN where they belong. We’re here to spread the good word on holiday recycling tips so we can all give Mother Earth the greatest gift this year - the gift of recycling.

1. WRAPPING PAPER

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without piles of gifts wrapped under the tree. Believe it or not, most wrapping paper is not recyclable (even though it has paper in the name). Wrapping paper is normally made with a shiny, glossy, or laminated coat which prevents it from being recycled along with other types of paper. Any wrapping paper without these fancy additives can be dropped in your RE.BIN and recycled. Tip: Make sure you don’t crumple wrapping paper that can be recycled because it makes it difficult to sort after reaching your local recycling center.

2. HOLIDAY BOXES

During the holiday season, UPS ships over 630 million packages across the country. If you’re lucky enough to receive a package in the mail this year, be sure to drop the box in your RE.BIN so it can be recycled. If you receive those thin white boxes full of clothes for Christmas, then double check with your curbside recycling program to see if they are accepted. Tip: Consider saving your boxes for any upcoming birthdays or even the holidays next year. Worried about how to store boxes during the year? RE.BIN doubles as a storage bin so it keeps them organized and out of sight.

3. HOLIDAY CARDS

It’s the time of year to wish your friends and family across the country a “Happy Holidays” and update them on the highlights of the year. Luckily, a standard greeting card that comes in a plain paper envelope can go straight in your RE.BIN. If your friends and family went the extra mile and sent cards with non paper adornments, then it’s a safe bet to toss them in the trash. Tip: If you get fancy greeting cards that cannot be recycled, consider re-using them for gift tags. It’s simple- just cut the front of the card into a square or rectangle and write your message on the back. 

4. TISSUE PAPER

Tissue paper is a holiday gift wrapping staple and whether you’re using a box or gift bag, tissue paper always comes in handy. We’ve included tissue paper in our holiday recycling tips because there is a common misconception that it can be recycled. Since tissue paper is usually made out of recycled paper, the fibers are not brand new and are actually too short to be recycled again. Tip: Although tissue paper cannot be recycled, it can be reused or composted so think twice before throwing it in the trash.

5. RIBBON

Wrapping presents wouldn’t be the same without having beautiful ribbons and bows to decorate them with. Unfortunately, everyone’s favorite wrapping garnishment is not recyclable, making ribbon a huge problem for our landfills. Every year we throw out approximately 38,000 miles of ribbon, a majority of which happens around the holidays. One of the main reasons ribbon cannot be recycled is because of its small size and stringy nature (recycling machines are temperamental). Tip: Stick to fabric ribbon this year because it is the easiest to re-use in the future. Just iron the fabric ribbon before you add it to your present and voilà- no one will even notice!

6. GIFT BAGS

Gift bags are the best solution if you don’t have extra time to wrap gifts this year. The great news is that if your gift bags are made out of strictly paper, they can be recycled in your RE.BIN. If gift bags have a waxy coat or any decorative flare (that’s not paper based) then you should double check with your recycling center to make sure they are accepted in your curbside program. Tip: Turn any reused gift bags into a DIY project and customize each gift bag with personalized decorations for that special someone.

7. CHRISTMAS TREE

We’re sad to see our Christmas tree go after the holidays are over but feel better knowing that we did right by Mother Nature when it does. The best way to dispose of a Christmas tree is to compost it and most local recycling centers have curbside pickup programs or designated location(s) where you can drop off your tree free of charge. 

8. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

One of the best parts of the holiday season is driving around local neighborhoods to see all of the Christmas lights shining bright. We included Christmas lights in our holiday recycling tips because even though we use them year after year, sometimes it’s time to upgrade to a new set. Christmas lights normally belong in the trash but some cities make an exception for Christmas lights during the holidays, so make sure to double check before tossing them out. Tip: If you’re looking to upgrade to LED lights (and lower your energy bill), Home Depot hosts a Christmas Light Recycling Event around the holidays where you can drop off your old lights and Home Depot will ensure they are recycled.

9. TINSEL

Nothing says holiday spirit more than some tinsel wrapped around your Christmas tree. We completely support getting festive but keep in mind that tinsel cannot be recycled, no matter what. Tip: When you recycle your Christmas tree, make sure to remove any tinsel you may have used so it gets accepted by your local recycling program.

10. PIE PANS

The holidays are the best excuse to eat pie with no regrets because calories during the Christmas season don’t count, right? The good news is you can eat pie guilt free this year because after you’re finished, aluminum pie pans go in your RE.BIN, not the trash. Tip: Throwing a holiday party this year? Put RE.BINs around the house so your guests can recycle as they enjoy the party. Not only will all the recyclables end up in the right place, but you’ll cut your cleanup time in half! 

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