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The Post Holiday Rubbish Mountain: Trash or Recyclable?

The holiday season brings joy…and a substantial amount of waste. Have a green holiday—know what parts of your post-gift trash mountain are recyclable. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Wrapping Paper: Wrapping paper is fun, but it is generally produced with a lot of chemical dyes that contribute to water pollution. Although you can put some wrapping paper in the recycling bin, the heavy inks downgrade the quality of the paper.

What’s your best bet for recycling-friendly wrapping paper?

  • Light colored and white backgrounds
  • Look for post-consumer recycled content paper
  • Remove all tape and tags before recycling
  • What types of wrapping paper are not recyclable?
  • Foil and metallic papers, or paper with metallic pieces

Glass and Plastic: Glass and plastic containers can be taken to the nearest recycling facility or left curbside (where available). Check your local waste management company to find out what numbers your facility accepts, and look for those numbers inside the Universal Recycle Symbol (three arrows chasing each other). If recyclable items are not recycled properly, they will go to a landfill—where they can’t be broken down.

Shipping Materials: Bubble wrap is hard to break down and is easily substituted by using shredded paper. You can purchase an inexpensive shredding machine to make your own shredded paper from unwanted documents in your home. Shredded paper can be put into a compost bin or recycled. In lieu of packing peanuts in your boxes, use unbuttered popcorn! If you do happen to receive peanuts or bubble wrap, you can drop them off for reuse at mailing/shipping companies. Another option for unwanted bubble wrap is to use it as window insulation to keep your heating costs down.

Cardboard and Paperboard Boxes: All boxes are recyclable, even if they have tape on them. Remove all non-cardboard items (such as clear wrap or packing peanuts).

Styrofoam Blocks: These are not recyclable. Please put them in the trash.

Fiber Blocks (molded pulp): These look like egg-carton fiber and are used instead of Styrofoam. They are recyclable.

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