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Handling your holiday waste: From Christmas lights to wrapping paper

October 4, 2019

Over the holidays, we toss out a million tons of… stuff. And we call it the season of giving… More like the season of wasting, amirite?

Seriously though, this time of year can be extremely wasteful. Needlessly so. Which is why we’re going to troubleshoot three common items people toss out during the holidays and how to correctly dispose of them. For everything we don’t cover, here’s a mantra you can keep top of mind (you might have heard of it somewhere…): reduce, reuse, recycle.

Let’s make it the season of giving… but, like, let’s give to the planet, instead of just to each other (and our garbage bins). That way we can ensure that the planed keeps giving to us.

Christmas lights

They’re garbage—sorry, mostly garbage. In some communities, there are special programs that’ll accept intact and broken lights. You could even ship em to Christmas Light Source to be recycled. Whatever you do, don’t toss them in recycling. Besides being unrecyclable, these babies wreak havoc on the equipment in your local recycling center. Also, if the lights are still good, donate them—please. Everybody has a light-crazy neighbor. I’m sure they’d appreciate the extra lighting.

Christmas trees

Most communities have special collections during and around the holiday season. Just drop your tree curbside or bring it to the appropriate drop-off location, and your city will do the rest. Make sure your tree is nude; that is, ornament- and light-free before you dispose of it. And if you have one of those plastic trees… well… reuse it, I guess. Otherwise it’ll get landfilled (or burned). They contain phthalates which are terrible for humans and the environment.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper, cards and paper bags can all be recycled, but only if they’re made out of the good stuff. By that, we mean 100% pure paper. Any sparkles, plastic film, rope handles, ribbons, glitter, foil doodads and it’s off to the garbage with them—unless you can tear off the non-recyclable stuff; then, by all means, put it in your recycling bin. That’s why buying the pure stuff matters. It can actually get recycled. And, if you can, a lot of this stuff can be reused. Maybe not cards, but you can always try and let us know how it went.

Don’t get caught being a yule fool this season, give yourself a sustainable gift and download our app. And tell your friends and family to do the same (they’ll thank you 😉).

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