As packages are delivered, wrapping paper purchased (it matters what kind!) and gift cards distributed, Republic Services has provided the village of Forest Park with guidelines about holiday-specific recycling.
There are lots of statistics on how much waste is produced annually in the United States during the holiday season. Republic Services cited the organization Earth911, which said that 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper go to landfills each year.
With a little foresight, however, residents can reduce the amount of holiday refuse that ends up in the dump. Here are some tips:
Although ribbons and bows aren’t recyclable, they can be reused.
When shipping holiday packages, consider using crumpled paper to secure items and keep them from moving. Reusing bubble wrap and foam peanuts from previous purchases is another way to cut down on waste. This is especially important because a lot of packing material, aside from paper, isn’t recyclable.
Choose wrapping paper and gift bags wisely. Glittery or foil paper or gift bags are not recyclable, only reusable, so choosing less-flashy wrapping is better for the environment.
Republic Services recommends using the “scrunch test” to see if wrapping paper — or any paper, for that matter — is recyclable. It’s easy. Crumple the paper you’re not sure about into a ball. When you open your hand, if it stays scrunched up, it most likely can be recycled. But paper that opens back up most likely can’t.
The glitter and foil rule applies to greeting cards and envelopes too. “Just remember, the fancier the paper, the less recyclable it is,” says Republic Services’ website on holiday recycling.
Cardboard shipping boxes and gift boxes can usually be recycled. Toy packaging that is made of heavy cardboard must be separated from any plastic packaging before recycling.
Sticky gift tags are not recyclable on their own, but if already affixed to plain paper or envelopes (remember, no foil or glitter!), they can be recycled.
Gift cards you’ve used can’t be recycled. Although they’re plastic, they’re too small to go through the sorter at the recycling center. But many retailers offer digital gift certificates that can be delivered via email, a much greener option.