Post-Christmas Recycling

Although now presents are unwrapped, the food has been eaten, and the gift cards are beginning to burn a hole in your wallet, it's still important to be less wasteful and eco-minded.

Gifts and Packaging

I hope you used recyclable wrapping paper on your gifts, but if not, remember that waxy, metallic papers must go in the trash. 

Collect and save all bows, ribbons, tissue paper, bags, boxes and gift tags in good condition, and store them for future holidays.

When it comes to packaging, recycle everything that's accepted in the bin: cardboard boxes, paper and plastics #1 and #2. Break down cardboard boxes for both space and security. Everything needs to fit inside the bin so it can be picked up by the mechanical arm. Especially if you have new electronics, you want to be discreet when disposing of the box so you aren't showing off just what expensive valuables are inside your home.

Styrofoam is a popular packaging material, but remember that it has to go in the trash. Same with plastic bags, plastic sleeves and twist ties.

If you happen to have packing peanuts, call your local UPS Store to see if they will accept a donation.

Exchanging Gifts

It's always an awkward situation, but if you've got a gift you simply don't need or want, it's better to return or exchange it, than to let it take up space and gather dust. If you're not sure where to return an item or it's past the deadline to return, look at selling it online (unless the gift giver would see it and be offended) or saving it to regift. Some may find it tacky, but it's better to give an item to someone who would actually use it!

When It's Time to Take the Christmas Tree Down

Louisiana no longer manages a Christmas tree recycling program for the coastline, and Lafayette Parish does not collect trees for coastal programs.

If you’re a resident of the city of Lafayette or unincorporated areas of the parish and you have a real tree, put it out for collection with your yard waste in the weeks after Christmas. The yard waste materials go Lafayette Consolidated Government’s compost facility and are made into mulch. An important note: trees must be free of ornaments, lights, tinsel, flocking and tree stands!

Any Acadiana resident can drop off their trees to the compost facility (located at 400 North Dugas Road) for a small fee. During the winter, they’re open Monday through Friday, 7-3:30, and on the second Saturday of each month (December through February) from 7-noon.

Do NOT burn Christmas trees in your interior fireplace. The sap from trees can create a fire hazard in your chimney or vent piping. And be careful if you burn it outside - they burn hot and fast.

If you’re into fishing, reuse Christmas trees by sinking them in lakes to create fish habitats. Three years ago, we collected about 45 Christmas trees for my father-in-law, who used them at their camp. It was definitely a chore, but it was pretty fun to watch him sink them all under the dock.

Taking Down the Decorations

My least favorite part of the holidays - putting all the festive decorations away for another year. Save breakable items by wrapping them in newsprint - OORRRRRR even used wrapping paper! Yes, I might have just thought of this one. Instead of throwing out wrapping paper, especially if it's the non-recyclable kind, save it to wrap breakables!

Use small tins to hold tiny items like ornament hooks or spare light bulbs.

Store decorations in reusable organizers and containers.

Save empty candle jars and tins by putting them in the freezer for a couple days. Take them out and run them under water to pop out the wax, then wash and clean the jars/tins. You can use them to hold tea light or votive candles, or make your own candles.

By storing your decorations safely, you can ensure that you'll get years of use out of them, saving them from the landfill.

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