The holidays came and went, and so did the ribbon, bows, wrapping paper and all that packaging.
On average, Americans generate 35 pounds of trash per week, and when the holidays roll around, that number goes up to 43 pounds. That means America has to deal with an extra two billion pounds of trash.
So, what can we do to reduce that? And what can we exactly can we recycle?
Zech from Recycle Here said he encourages people to not buy wrapping paper because it’s not recyclable and is very low-quality paper. When it comes to bows, ribbons and packaging plastic, the recycling expert told Local 4 that those items can wind around trash machinery and clog it up.
“If you were to put Christmas lights in your curbside bin or something like that, that would be really bad, not just for you, but for everybody else, because on the back end, they’re going to say ‘all this is trash,’ and they’re going to toss it,” Zech said.
Zech told Local 4 that glass, metal-like cooking pans that have been cleaned and clean cardboard or brown paper can be recycled.
“It’s really important right now that people be really conscious that they’re attempting to recycle, and to not be too wishful about the things they’re trying to recycle,” Zech said.
A good rule of thumb is: if it’s single-use, it’s probably not recyclable -- but if you’re not sure, it’s always best to ask.
Michigan falls well behind the national average when it comes to recycling, too. We recycle just 19% of what we throw away. The national average is 34%.
Related: Where to recycle your Christmas tree in Metro Detroit