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Need to Know

Recycling Tips to Make the Holidays More Environmentally Friendly

According to the EPA, 80 percent of what is thrown away during the holidays can be recycled or repurposed.

With parties, decorations, gift giving and travel, Americans generate 25 percent more waste than average between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day—equating to almost 1,000 pounds of trash per household. However, roughly 80 percent of what is thrown away during the holidays can be recycled or repurposed, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This holiday season, Republic Services encourages consumers to incorporate simple, environmentally responsible practices into celebrations and family gatherings to minimize waste.

"Many of us want to be better recyclers during the holidays, but we aren't sure how or just don't have the time," said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, in a statement. "With a few simple steps during the holidays, we can all do our part to make environmentally responsible choices throughout the holiday season and help make a positive impact in our communities for generations to come."

Simple holiday recycling tips include:

1. Save and reuse gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year—it's smart for the environment and for your wallet.

2. Shipping gifts? Make shredded paper out of old newspapers and magazines or be sure to reuse last year's bubble wrap and foam peanuts.

3. Think twice when it comes to wrapping paper. Standard wrapping paper should be recycled, but anything with glitter or foil belongs in the trash (or save it for next year). Generally, the fancier the wrapping paper, the less recyclable it is.

4. Getting a new device this holiday season? Make sure your old phone or tablet isn't tossed in recycling. Check with your local service provider for special instructions or electronics recycling options.

Check out Republic’s latest video showcasing simple holiday recycling tips:

Common holiday items that do not belong in recycling include bubble wrap, cellophane, holiday ribbons and bows, batteries, food waste, clothing and shoes, holiday lights, electronics and foam packaging. All of these items and materials should be placed in a waste container, not a recycle bin.

Additionally, toy packaging made of heavy cardboard is only recyclable when the cardboard is separated from the plastic. This includes the plastic window on the box of a doll or action figure. Sticky gift tags are not recyclable by themselves, but they are acceptable if affixed to an envelope or wrapping paper. Check with local service providers for any changes in holiday collection schedules and how to properly dispose of real Christmas trees.

RecyclingSimplified.com has additional simple tips to help consumers become better recyclers for the Blue Planet and their local communities:

Know What to Throw. Paper and cardboard, metal cans and plastic bottles and jugs. With bottles and jugs, remember to keep the caps on.

Empty. Clean. Dry. When recyclables are compressed in the truck, leftover food or liquid can ruin perfectly good recyclables.

Keep it Loose. Never bag or bundle your recyclables.

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