Holiday gift-giving is one of the most rewarding times of the year, but all those gifts can result in material that doesn’t necessarily need to go directly in the garbage can. Here are several recycling options.
Christmas light recycling
We all love the charming glow of winter lights, but when a string stops lighting up, where do you take them? Here are a few options in the Skagit County area.
Recycling deposit boxes for working or nonworking lights are located directly inside main doors, available until the end of January:
n Lowes in Burlington
n Home Depot in Mount Vernon
n Skagit River Steel and Recycling, 1265 S. Anacortes St. Burlington, 360-757-6096. Open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
n Christmas Light Source: christmas-light-source.com/pages/christmas-lights-recycling-program
n Holiday LEDs: holidayleds.com/free-light-recycling
Christmas tree composting
The best place for the good old-fashioned, indoor, cut evergreen tree after the holiday is the compost pile. By city, here are the options for helping your tree return to the soil. Remember, in all cases trees must be completely clean and free of decorations, lights, bows, tinsel, glitter and flocking.
Composting curbside pickup
Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley
In these cities, residents serviced with a curbside green waste cart may cut up their tree and place it inside the green cart for curbside pickup. Please make sure your tree fits inside your cart, and do not leave the tree on top of the cart or beside it. Refer to your city’s Public Works Department for additional information.
Composting you haul
City of Sedro-Woolley recycling facility
For residents of Sedro-Woolley only. The City Recycling Facility accepts clean trees, free of charge, for composting at its facility during the first three weeks in January. Look for large signs outside the facility gates. 315 Sterling St., Sedro-Woolley. Hours: Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Saturdays are seasonal. Opens the first Saturday in March and closes the first Saturday in November. Closed all holidays.
City of Mount Vernon yard waste facility
For residents of Mount Vernon only. The City Yard Waste Facility accepts clean trees, free of charge, for composting at its facility during winter hours of operation. City Shop Complex, 1010 Shop Lane, Mount Vernon. Hours: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., closed holidays.
All county residents are welcome to visit the facility. Base disposal fee for yard waste and tree composting is .03 cents per pound with a $5 minimum. 13260 Ball Road, Mount Vernon. Winter hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Holiday schedule: closed Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
Packaging material recycling & re-use
Packing peanuts, bubble wrap and air pillows are often part of the packaging contained in holiday shipping orders. Beyond letting your kids make music in the hallways by popping them, here are some options for reuse and recycling.
Make low-packaging requests
n Email Customer Service. Amazon: email@example.com.
Ask to make a note in your account to avoid plastic packaging or avoid extra packaging when possible. (No, there’s not a way to do this manually.) It’s up to the distributors whether they do it or not. Definitely not a guaranteed method, but worth a try.
n Search through Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging products. The program sends your item without — essentially — a box around a box. The box is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials.
Not every item on Amazon is available in the frustration-free packaging service (there are some 300,000 items), but it’s definitely a start.
n Skip 2-Day Shipping and ask for bulk delivery. When you’re ordering multiple items, be sure to request that they be sent together. Sure, it might take a few days longer to get your items, but you’ll get far less cardboard/plastic packaging with one bulk delivery.
When you ask for items to be delivered quickly, the online distributor loses the ability to consolidate deliveries. Rather than sorting items into trucks in the cheapest way, the company now has to focus on the fastest way.
That means more trucks running on the roads or worse, air delivery. Airplanes emit far more carbon than other modes of transportation, so ultra-fast shipping guarantees you’re shooting more carbon directly into the sky.
Recycling at mail and shipping stores
Specialty mail and shipping stores will often take all three of these packing materials back for reuse as long as they are clean, and contained. This includes UPS, FedEx and other specialty or private mail shops.
Find stores in your municipality and give them a call to see what they’re looking to accept. Do note that the U.S. Postal Service does not take these back.
Recycling at department stores
You can drop off bubble wrap and air pillows to be recycled at a number of locations such as Target, Walmart, Lowes, etc. Find the closest dropoff to you by visiting the Plastic Film Recycling website: plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/find-drop-off-location/
Wrapping paper alternatives, recycling and disposal
Wrapping paper should not go in the recycling bin unless you specifically purchased recyclable paper. The same goes for tissue paper, ribbon and bows.
Even things like gift boxes, bags or cards that would normally be recyclable have to go in the trash if they’re embellished with glitter or a metallic finish.
Recyclable options for paper
Craft paper and newspaper are both recyclable and if used as gift wrap, can be recycled in the curbside bin. Unembellished paper bags are recyclable as well.
Alternative wrapping options
There are lots of creative ways to wrap gifts in reusable and recyclable materials.
For example, check out Spoonflower’s video tutorial to learn more about the Japanese style of wrapping gifts in decorative cloth and scarves at blog.spoonflower.com/2019/11/6-ways-to-wrap-a-gift-with-furoshiki.