Learn some hol­i­day re­cy­cling do’s and don’ts

The Tribune (SLO) - - The Cambrian - BY DIANNE BROOKE

“It’s the most won­der­ful ti­i­i­i­i­i­i­i­ime of the year,” goes the old hol­i­day tune.

And it is, in so many ways. How­ever, many of us quake at the thought of the in­crease in con­sumerism across the land and the con­se­quences it holds for our planet’s well-be­ing. Many of us try to mit­i­gate this uptick in pur­chas­ing of goods by re­cy­cling or reusing. Here are a few tips as you un­wrap that hand-knit sweater from Gramma.

First and fore­most, re­duce. But it’s too late to de­cline of­fer­ings. The sweater came.

What do you do with the wrap­ping?

Card­board: As long as it is un­coated, break it down and put into the re­cy­cle bin after re­mov­ing any ex­ces­sive plas­tic strap­ping tape. That’s a pretty ob­vi­ous one, but what if, like me, some­one reuses say, a frozen food box to present some nice can­dles in? Do not re­cy­cle boxes with any kind of coat­ing on them. Just like pizza boxes with oil or food on them, they gum up the works and con­tam­i­nate the load of re­cy­clables (you’re go­ing to see the word “con­tam­i­nate” a lot in this piece). Pull the top, clean por­tion of the pizza box off, by the way, and blue bin it)

What about the wrap­ping paper? If it’s plain old paper, into the re­cy­cle bin it goes.

How­ever, if it has glit­ter, flock­ing or doesn’t pass the “crin­kle test” (crush it up in your hand; if it pops open in­stead of stay­ing crum­pled up) it must go into the garbage can. It isn’t re­cy­clable, and it will con­tam­i­nate whole loads of ma­te­rial col­lected. Same with bub­ble wrap, cel­lo­phane and any­thing else with mixed ma­te­ri­als in it. The fa­cil­i­ties are un­able to sep­a­rate these things.

I love to take time to send 100 Christ­mas cards out, and I love re­ceiv­ing them as well. It just makes me feel con­nected. What to do with them after the hol­i­day is over? Per­haps you like to save the photo cards in al­bums to watch peo­ple grow and ad­ven­ture through life. If not or for the oth­ers, you can re­cy­cle some of them. Do not put the fol­low­ing ma­te­ri­als into the re­cy­cle bin: glit­ter, add-ons, flock­ing, coated, strings or rib­bon. You may cut the plain paper backs off cards and re­cy­cle them, but toss the rest. Home-printed pho­tos are fine to re­cy­cle, but some com­mer­cially printed pics are not. Make art with them or… trash them.

Speak­ing of rib­bon, Do not put rib­bons in the re­cy­cling bin! Tin­sel, rib­bons and strings all clog up the discs used to sep­a­rate ma­te­ri­als out. I read where they are likened to hair get­ting wrapped around the roller brush in your vac­uum. Take the time to sep­a­rate all these ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing tape-on bows from all pack­ages and cards.

Dec­o­ra­tions? Ar­ti­fi­cial trees are not re­cy­clable but are cer­tainly do­nate-able! Christ­mas lights can go into E-waste bins. Or­na­ments are un­for­tu­nately not re­cy­clable. Any bro­ken glass, whether stan­dard house­hold light bulbs, glass or­na­ments, wine glasses, pic­ture glass all must go into the garbage. Be­sides, it is too un­safe for san­i­ta­tion work­ers to be sur­prised by the ma­te­rial.

My mom used to have a whole cup­board shelf ded­i­cated to used wrap­ping paper, rib­bons and bows. They got reused count­less times. Paper gift bags are eas­ily reused. Cover your text books with col­or­ful paper. We used last year’s greet­ing cards to make into or­na­ments or gift tags. While cookie tins are re­cy­clable, con­sider reusing them to or­ga­nize nuts and bolts in the garage, Le­gos, craft or sewing sup­plies, etc. You can de­coupage them with some of the groovier wrap­ping papers you re­ceived.

China has been the re­cip­i­ent of much of Amer­ica’s re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als, mainly paper goods. How­ever, due to our poor sep­a­rat­ing habits, much of the waste is turn­ing into just that — waste — as it can­not be re­cy­cled with so many con­tam­i­nants. My son in Port­land says that is a big is­sue up there where they ask cit­i­zens to sep­a­rate out things way fur­ther than we do in SLO County. It is widely sug­gested, even if your par­tic­u­lar mu­nic­i­pal­ity doesn’t spec­ify it, that all ac­cept­able paper goods be put into their own con­tainer and con­tain­ers to be re­cy­cled should be clean and dry be­fore go­ing near paper goods (no dirty paper plates, cof­fee cups, used paper tow­els — all the damp­ness gets gross and pos­si­bly moldy).

The bot­tom line? En­joy the hol­i­days. Take time to pull tape off papers, re-

JOE JOHN­STON jjohn­[email protected]­bune­news.com

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