Hopefully you're in a position where you receive a few gifts this holiday season. Some of those gifts may come in boxes, there might be plastic, ribbon, packing peanuts and wrapping paper involved. But, be careful what you put in your recycling bin this holiday because there are certain things that actually belong in the trash.

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Olmstead County in Minnesota has a really helpful tool you can use to figure it out!  It's called the 'Waste Wizard'. I went ahead and plugged in a few popular Christmas garbage items to see whether they should be recycled or trashed...here's my findings.

  • Packing peanuts, Styrofoam and bubble wrap: TRASH IT. 
  • Wrapping paper/bows/ribbons: TRASH IT
  • Christmas lights: you can recycle them but they can't go in your recycling bin at home. You need to drop it off at a recycling facility. 
  • Gift bags: TRASH IT
  • Parchment or wax paper: TRASH IT
  • Plastic wrap: TRASH IT
  • Paper cups, plates, plastic forks: TRASH IT
  • Packing paper: RECYCLE IT 
  • Artificial tree: Bring it to a recycling center
  • Real tree: look for special recycling pickup days. 

This tool is honestly so helpful! You can use it for more than just Christmas garbage. Look up anything with a few clicks of a button. Next time you're on the fence about whether something belongs in the recycling, verify it on Waste Wizard.

The holiday shopping season also brings excess plastic bags into our lives. Keep in mind, you can't put plastic bags into your recycling. Instead, Coborn's has a plastic bag recycling bin at their stores and they will pick up your plastic bags if you get your groceries delivered to your home.


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