by Katy Duggan-Haas
Sustainability Educator, Modern Recycling
Is a new electronic device on your holiday wish list? If it is and your wishes come true, don't forget to recycle your old one. For environmental preservation, "reuse" is always the best choice, but if your old phone, music player, game, TV or other electronic device cannot be passed on to someone else, take it to an electronics recycling collection site or event. Many stores that sell electronics and also some thrift stores accept them for recycling, and most municipalities have an electronics waste recycling drop-off site, so options are available.
It is important to recycle electronic goods because they have heavy metals in them that are toxic to the environment, but also valuable resources for making new electronic goods. Waste collection crews in New York state are no longer allowed to pickup electronic waste co-mingled with other recycling or trash at your home or business, so be sure to ask about recycling options when you purchase something new.
Did some of your strings of holiday lights provide glowing good cheer for the last time? String lights aren't accepted in curbside collection programs (they are hard for the sorting equipment to handle), but they do have metals in them worth recovering. Scrap metal facilities and electronic recycling companies accept them for recycling, so you don't have to put them in the trash.
Remember that the wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes you receive your gifts in are all recyclable in your household recycling container. When wrapping gifts, you can reduce waste by selecting recycled-content paper or a reusable wrapping material. I've received gifts wrapped in the Sunday comics, a reusable cloth gift bag and even wrapped in a towel with a bow.
Holiday cards and much of the packaging from your holiday meals are recyclable, too. And don't forget the extra toilet paper tubes from all those guests. If you have too much recycling to fit in your collection container, you may put the extra in a clear plastic bag. Broken bulky toys like a plastic workbench or kitchen center may be recycled, too. Set extra bags and bulky items out next to your recycling cart or bin on your normal recycling week.