Monday, December 28, 2009

Recycled Trees, Lights, and Packaging

The holidays tend to be a time of excess. In case you suffered some of that in your own household, here are some ideas for recycling your way out of the mess!

What to do I do with...

The tree? If you had a real tree, remember that it is biodegradable and can easily be recycled back into the Earth. In my neighborhood, the Boy Scouts come around every year and for a nominal donation will recycle it. If you're not so lucky, you can either put chop it up for your own yard waste or look for a drop off location at Earth911.

Broken or old lights? Rather than storing away the lights that no longer work for another year, you can drop them off at participating Ace Hardware stores. They were originally offering 15% coupons for the new energy-efficient LED lights, but those are actually marked down 65% now, so you can even get a bargain on next year's lights.

All that packaging? It is a few days past Christmas, so hopefully those messes are already cleaned up, but just in case here are a few thoughts. Save the boxes and bows for reuse next year. I just stack the nice gift boxes inside each other and then toss them down in the crawlspace for next year. Remember that in most cases, those horrendous plastic clamshells that encase many children's toys cannot be recycled. Unfortunately, those must be tossed. Did you get any styrofoam peanuts in packages that arrived by mail. Most packaging stores will gladly accept those for their own reuse.

Holiday cards? Recycling is an option for the cards that don't have foil or glitter, but another possibility is to reuse them for next year's gift tags. You can have your children cut out the designs and then pack them away with the decorations until next year. If your kids really like cutting out the penguins, snowflakes, and Santas, they may even turn it into a craft project to keep them busy while they're out of school this week. Ask them to create a winter scene from all the cutouts or have them make up a story to go with it.

What about you? What sort of excess is your home suffering from after the holidays? Feel free to post your own tips in the Comments.

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