What to do with all that holiday trash? Officials say reduce, reuse, recycle

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When Donner and Blitzen deliver their holiday packages, they don’t leave much advice about what to do with the trash.

And Americans produce lots of extra trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day.

That’s according to to Lauren Westerman, resource recovery specialist with the Kent County Department of Public Works. 

Kent County is urging its residents to stay off the naughty list by consulting the county’s Holiday Waste Guide.

“It’s important for everyone to enjoy the holidays and to give gifts,” said Westerman. “But I think there are sustainable ways to do that, and part of that is to make sure that you are recycling right and also to take that into consideration even before you have to recycle.”

She says each community’s recycling instructions will tell you the do’s and don’ts of how to dispose of all that wrapping paper, bubble wrap, holiday lights, and discarded electronics. 

“When it comes to knowing what a local recycling center will accept or not accept, it is very localized,” said Westerman. “So it’s important to check with your local community.”

Westerman said wrapping and tissue paper cannot be recycled in Kent County.

But Ann Arbor Recycle’s Holiday Reuse and Recycling Guide says you can drop it in the recycle bin – that is, as long as it’s not foil or metallic.

Westerman said it’s best to try to create less trash in the first place.

“If you can be creative with your wrapping paper like using old maps, reuse bags and bows and ribbons from previous years,” Westerman said. “Then that’s ways to reduce your trash right there.”

Westerman said to not guess about what can be recycled because unrecyclable items like Christmas lights can jam up the process.

“It comes down to recycling the right things all year round,” said Westerman. “But especially at Christmas and the holiday season when we’re producing so much more trash.”

According to Kent County DPW estimates, by the end of 2018, residents will have recycled over the whole year 500,000 Christmas trees-worth of paper,  enough aluminum to make 74,000 tabletop Menorahs and enough steel to make 53,000 Radio Flyer wagons.



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