Allied Waste recently published a list of “Naughty and Nice” recycling tips to help its customers through some complex recycling choices.
The company says that, even for diligent and dedicated recyclers, “holiday decorations and gift wrap may present a challenge.”
So, just what is acceptable for the recycle bin?
The “Nice” list includes things like gift boxes, tissue paper, shoe boxes, holiday cards and envelopes, paper gift bags and wrapping paper.
On the “Naughty” list? Items like bubble wrap, foam peanuts, ribbons and bows, sticky gift labels and gift bags that are coated, laminated or dyed.
If gifts are carefully unwrapped people may want to consider reusing the wrapping paper, the waste hauler says. If you have a room full of eager children tearing into their packages, well, never mind. Just be sure to collect the wrapping paper (as wadded up as it may be) and put it in the recycling bin.
As for Christmas trees, yes, they are recyclable, says the company. But anything on the tree (tinsel, lights, bells, ornaments, etc.) is not. Take these items off the tree so that it can be mulched or composted.
Allied also suggests creative and practical ways to reuse items that are not recyclable.
“Use sustainable packing materials when packing and sending gifts,” advises the company. “Instead of purchasing new foam peanuts, use shredded newspaper or even popcorn.”
Foam peanuts are made from polystyrene and are usually not recyclable. They also cling to everything and, if spilled, can create more hassle than they’re worth. If you receive a package with foam peanuts, consider keeping them for future shipping needs.
A special holiday greeting card may make a festive gift tag next year. For all other paper and paperboard greeting cards and envelopes, toss them into the recycling bin.
Granted, Santa will have already visited your house by the time you need to figure out whether or not to throw away that used gift box or toss it in the recycle bin (where it belongs) but just remember that he has started making his list of who has been “Naughty or Nice” for 2011. And it is never too late to be “Nice” on behalf of the environment.