How to stay on the recycling “Nice” list this holiday season

Happy Holidays from ecomaine! ‘Tis the season for “decking the halls” and potluck parties galore. Here at ecomaine, we receive about a third of Maine’s recyclables, or roughly 41,000 tons annually, which means we see evidence every day of serve ware, packages and decorations that are ripe with opportunity to be recycled right.

social-media-postThat’s why we have created this Naughty and Nice list to remind you of of what can be recycled. 

Eva of the Coast 93.1 morning show, shared our list on Dec. 12. Listen to her radio spot here.

RECYCLING DOs to get you on the Nice list this holiday season:

Aside from all of your standard household mixed paper and assorted rigid containers made of cardboard, plastic, glass, tin or aluminum, there are a number of items that are commonly used at the holidays that you can recycle. Here are the top five:

  1. Wrapping paper that rips: If it rips, it recycles. Put it the rip test and it if passes, place it in your bin.
  2. Holiday cards: even if they have glitter on them, they are recyclable. Don’t let all of that recyclable paper go to waste this season, put them in your recycling bin!
  3. Aluminum foil pans: whether it’s pie plates, fruit cake pans or any other aluminum pan, remember the rule that if the pan is not caked with sticky, thick food residue, then the pans are recyclable. The same goes for aluminum foil! Aluminum is a very nice material for your recycling bin!
  4. Cardboard and gift boxes: with the rise of cybershopping, you might have a bigger inventory of cardboard boxes, nevermind those gift boxes that make such pretty packages under the tree. Break them down flat before placing them in your bin to ensure enough space for the higher volume of recyclables you are likely to incur through the holidays.
  5. Cookie tins: When you receive tins of cookies, consider saving them to contain your own baked gift next year, or donating them to Goodwill or any other salvage shop. But if they are no longer useful, do place them in your recycling bin!
Recycling DON’Ts that will land you on the Naughty list:
  1. Bows and ribbon: there is no way to recycle these, so your best bet is to save them and reuse them each year, or do away with disposable gift wrap altogether with decorative cloth gift bags. Bows and ribbon are naughty for the recycling bin.
  2. Wrapping paper that doesn’t rip: if your wrapping paper doesn’t rip, then it is probably made of plastic vs. paper and therefore cannot be recycled. We’ll talk about the wrapping paper you can recycle when we list the “Nice” to recycle list.
  3. Christmas tree lights: Maybe you’re trimming the tree only to discover that last year’s lights are not longer repairable. In this case, your best bet is to donate them to a local Goodwill store. They can sell broken lights onto the market because of the valuable copper wires usually contained inside. Whatever you do, don’t put them in your recycling bin, as they will end up clogging ecomaine’s sorting equipment.
  4. Foil caked with residue: Aluminum foil is endlessly recyclable – if it is not caked with cheese or other sticky, messy residue. If it is caked with residue, you are best off tossing it in the trash.
  5. Plastic cutlery: If you can avoid it altogether, that is the best strategy, but if you need to use it, consider reusing it again and again. When you can’t use it any longer, you should put this type of plastic in the trash, not your recycling bin.

Learn more about what can or can’t be recycled this holiday or every day with ecomaine’s Single-Sort Recycling Guide, and find your nearest recycling drop-off location here. Can’t find an answer to your question? Post it on our Will it Recycle? form and we’ll send you a personalized response.

Keep up with regular recycling tips and tricks by following ecomaine on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.