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What to reduce, reuse and recycle this holiday season

Posted at 9:11 AM, Dec 22, 2022

MIDVALE, Utah — Most Utahns have heard of the three R’s to help the environment as residents become more conscious of our consumerism, especially during the holidays.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

But as families tear through the tape and wrapping during the Christmas morning frenzy, it’s important to remember what everyone can recycle, what we should reuse and what gets thrown out.

Almost 25 percent of items put into the recycling bin isn’t supposed to be in there.

"I think a lot of people just aren't aware, especially when it comes to packaging," said McKenna Tupa'i with the Wasatch Waste and Recycling District. "After the pandemic, that definitely became more of a thing online shopping. So, I think, especially during this Christmas time, that's a big, big thing we see."

Trying to recycle the wrong thing disrupts the process, slowing it down and actually costing the recycling centers more money.

So when prepping presents for the big day and then ripping the wrapping open, it’s important to know what works.

"Cardboard, obviously any cardboard boxes, any paper bags. If you have cards like Christmas cards or gift cards you're giving out and it has to not be shiny or glittery. If there's no glitter or shine on it then that is recyclable. Envelopes are recyclable your standard envelope," added Tupa'i.

Bows and other things like that are not recyclable. And wrapping paper that is nice and shiny is also a no go because of the wax coating and glitter that's added.

"When you're buying wrapping paper, try to look for wrapping paper that doesn't have those things," said Tupa'i.

In this day of daily shipping, remember, only the cardboard containers can go in the bin. But Tupa'i says all the padded envelopes designed for efficiency are not efficient for recycling.

"It's got paper on the outside and then the bubble wrap on the inside. Not recyclable. Two materials. It's really hard to break up," she said.

For all the bows, ribbon and wrapping paper that don’t recycle, there’s always next year. Remember the middle "R" and reuse the good stuff.

Christmas trees are not recyclable and people should take those to the curb and give Wasatch Recycling a call.