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Tips for safely managing holiday waste

A green trash can overflows with festive holiday garbage.

How to sustainably clean up after the celebration.

The holidays are here, and for many of us that means making space to host more people in our homes. Because of that, now is a great time to declutter by removing hazardous and solid waste. Proper waste disposal helps keep King County’s landfills undercapacity and reduces our greenhouse gas emissions. Keep these tips in mind when you start purging your clutter this holiday season.

Organic Waste

Any food scraps need to be composted. The best way to compost is to put food and food-soiled paper in the compost bin. Remember to be sure to keep plastics out. For leftovers, get creative and make new meals to save money and reduce food waste. For more food waste prevention tips, check out Food: Too Good to Waste.

If you celebrate Christmas and have a leftover tree, come January, you can give it a second life as woodchips or compost when you tree-cycle. Learn more from the King County Solid Waste Division. Please note that artificial or flocked trees cannot be accepted as yard waste – neither can real trees with any kind of décor still on them.

Lights and Packaging Materials

If your holiday lights won’t light on one side, don’t fall into Grinch mode. You can recycle them at these King County locations.

Many of us have a mountain of wrapping paper, greeting cards, ribbons, and packaging materials once the party is over. Did you know that you can recycle that paper? Just remove the large pieces of tape, plastic, glitter products, Styrofoam, ribbons, and bows from your paper materials. You can even turn your cardboard boxes into compost.

Keep in mind that even though Styrofoam can’t be recycled at curbside, it is still recyclable! King County offers free recycling of Styrofoam blocks at the Bow Lake and Shoreline recycling and transfer stations. Other types of foam materials, such as packing peanuts, may be taken to recycling drop-off locations. Find out where you can drop off your Styrofoam waste using the King County Solid Waste website.

Plastic bags and wraps can also be recycled, just not with your other recyclables. Plastic bags and wraps can also be taken to the Shoreline and Bow Lake stations. If those stations aren’t accessible to you, they can be taken to one of many retail drop-off locations. And while tossing plastic bags and wraps in the trash isn’t the best option, it’s still better than contaminating other recyclables.

Electronics and batteries

As we continue to put the latest gadgets and technology on our holiday wish lists, our hoard of unwanted electronics keeps growing. Consider dropping off old electronics using E-Cycle Washington which accepts items like computers, monitors, printers, TVs, and other household electronics.

You can also recycle batteries. Most batteries are accepted at household hazardous waste collection facilities or at Call2Recycle locations. Learn more about proper battery disposal by visiting the King County Solid Waste website.

King County continues to find innovative ways to make recycling better all year round. Learn more about what King County is doing to build a better waste system through the RE+ plan.

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