Tuesday, 18 December 2018 22:07

Recycle responsibly this holiday season

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It’s not uncommon to see overflowing trash cans and recycling bins during the holiday season. That’s because Americans throw out 25 percent more trash from November to December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To help reduce the city’s trash footprint and make your holiday a bit greener, try some of these smart recycling tips:   

Curbside bin recycling

The City of Houston offers curbside recycling to residents living within city limits. Consider the following when filling your green recycling bin:

Gift wrapping paper. Despite what you’ve heard, gift wrapping paper is not recyclable. It often contains dyes, glitter, and other non-paper additives. Throw it in your trash can, not your recycling bin.  Save unused wrapping paper for next year.

Shipping boxes. If you did most of your shopping online, you might be left with quite a few cardboard boxes. Break them down and place them in your recycling bin. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also find many ways to reuse them on Pinterest., a do-it-yourself craft idea website.

Ribbons and bows. Yes, they’re pretty, but they’re not recyclable.Bows, ribbons and other stringy trash can wreak havoc on recycling equipment. Avoid placing any of these items in your curbside bin.

Plastic bags and other items. You can recycle plastic grocery bags at many grocery stores. Items such as Styrofoam and glass bottles can be recycled, but they need to be taken to city depositories or environmental service centers. Check their lists of accepted items. Finally, aluminum pans, paper plates, napkins and plastic spoons and forks must be thrown away due to possible food debris. 

Tree recycling

Residents can recycle their trees at drop-off recycling sites located throughout Houston. Yard and tree waste will be collected on residents’ normal garbage collection day. The trees must have all decorations, ornaments, tinsel, lights and stands removed. Flocked trees cannot be recycled. Check Solid Waste Management’s webpage for locations and dates.

Green gifts and decor

When it comes to gifts and décor, there are a lot of ways to make them environmentally friendly. Here are few ideas: 

Quality versus quantity: Opt for one big gift rather than multiple gifts. You’ll waste less and save time.

Gift bags: You can reuse gift bags for next year. Fold them up and store them with your holiday décor. 

Homemade gifts: Baked goods, photo mementos and other homemade gifts can hold more meaning than a store-bought item. Plan out who will receive your homemade treasures and get an early start to avoid stress. 

Promise gifts: You can opt for online subscriptions, memberships, electronic gift cards, or gift certificates. 

Tree décor: If you’re thinking of changing your tree theme, there are plenty of ways to reuse your current ornaments. Leftover paint can breathe life into anything. You can also make use of household items like clothespins to make stars, old music sheets to cut out ornaments, or collect pinecones to decorate. 

You can learn even more about recycling cooking oil, holiday lights, and much more in this nifty holiday episode of Wasting No Time, a show produced by SWMD.

City recycling centers and more

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Solid Waste Management Department

Neighborhood Depositories & Recycling Centers

Environmental Service Centers

Tree and Junk Waste Program 

Holiday collection schedule


Did you know? Holiday Trash Facts 

Holiday waste adds up to about 1 million tons of extra trash per week, bringing the total to 25 million tons of festive garbage.

More than 2 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the U.S. If we each sent one less card, we could save up to 50,000 cubic yards of paper. 

If each American family reused two feet of holiday ribbon, we could tie a 38,000-mile-long bow around earth. 

On average, it costs about $20 less to light a tree 12 hours a day for 40 days using LED lights versus incandescent lights.

Of the 50 million holiday trees purchased in the U.S., 30 million will end up in a landfill.

If each family reduced their holiday driving by 20 miles, they could reduce greenhouse gas emission by a combined one million tons.

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