With the arrival of holiday season, the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), in the Department of Environmental Protection, reminds residents that although this time of year traditionally produces additional amounts of waste, there are many ways to reduce the amounts generated by individual households not only now, but beyond.
Reducing Unwanted Mail
Even before the holidays arrive, many households receive a rush of sale flyers, catalogs and magazines. Before placing unwanted mail in the recycling bin, residents may want to take a minute to remove their names from the company’s mailing list. Often, all that is needed is a call to a toll-free number to ensure removal from the mailing list.
To help reduce the volume of unwanted mail throughout the year, DSWS recommends registering on a “Do Not Mail” list with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). To register online, visit www.DMAchoice.org. Or, download the form available on that website and mail to: DMA Choice, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512. There is a one dollar fee for the service.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Waste reduction, reuse and recycling are important throughout the entire year. However, DSWS offers the following tips during the holiday season when purchasing and wrapping gifts and entertaining can increase:
• When buying gifts to be mailed, select items that are easy to ship and don’t require excess packaging.
• Use reusable shopping bags instead of paper or plastic shopping bags.
• Consolidate all purchases into one bag, rather than getting a new bag for each item. Ask for a bag only if necessary.
• Shop for gifts at antique stores or estate sales--one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Donate unwanted gifts, along with last year’s gifts that the kids have outgrown or that you no longer need, to charitable organizations.
• Instead of using disposable batteries, consider purchasing rechargeable batteries for digital cameras, radios, and toys.
• Items to be shipped can be wrapped in brown paper bags from grocery stores.
• Some boxes are attractive enough that they don’t need wrapping. Simply add a bow or a reusable ribbon.
• Reusable gift bags can save time when wrapping gifts and can be used again and again.
• When giving oversized gifts such as bicycles or CD racks, just tie a bow around them.
• Save paper by wrapping just the top of the box, rather than the entire box.
• Sunday comics or outdated maps make unique gift wraps.
• Reuse wrapping paper -- have scissors handy when opening gifts so that paper doesn’t get damaged when tearing off tape.
• Make the wrapping a part of the gift: put cookies in a flower pot or enfold jewelry in a new pair of gloves.
• Use last year’s holiday cards to make this year’s gift tags.
• Reuse packing cartons and shipping materials such as packaging peanuts, shredded newspaper and bubble wrap. Donate excess packaging materials to local mailing centers.
• Think of giving gifts that don’t have to be wrapped at all: tickets to concerts, museums, and/or sporting events, gift certificates or gift cards, and house plants.
• Recycle wrapping paper, including coated wrapping paper, with other types of mixed paper. Foil gift wrap or plastic film is not recyclable.
• Save any leftovers from a party. Send them home with guests in reusable containers.
• Holiday cooking can generate many types of containers that are now acceptable for recycling in the County’s recycling program. But before recycling them, think about whether some of these containers are good for saving leftovers. If so, send them home with guests, store them in the refrigerator or put them in the freezer for later.
• For hosting a large number of guests, consider renting dishes, glassware, utensils, table cloths and cloth napkins instead of using disposable items.
• Purchase food items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging.
• Let children make creative decorations out of things around the house or in the yard, such as pinecones, leaves, branches, etc.
For questions – or more ideas -- about waste reduction or recycling, call 311; 240-777-0311 from outside Montgomery County; TTY 240-777-3556; or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recycling.
Christmas Tree Recycling Schedule and Tips
Montgomery County residents may recycle their Christmas trees from Monday, December 27, 2010 through Friday, February 4, 2011 by placing the entire tree at the curb by 7 a.m. on their regular recycling collection day.
After February 4, Christmas trees may be recycled through the County’s curbside yard trim recycling collection program. Because the trees will be chipped for mulch, they must first be cut into smaller pieces.
The Division of Solid Waste Services reminds residents to keep trees in their natural state and to remove the stand and all decorations, including lights, ornaments, tinsel and garland. There should be nothing attached to the tree.
Residents are also reminded not to place trees in plastics bags. Trees with root balls are considered
“live” and therefore cannot be collected as part of this recycling program. In addition, artificial trees cannot be collected as part of the recycling program. Residents might consider donating artificial trees to charitable organizations or offering them for reuse through online reuse networks such as the Freecycle Network at www.Freecycle.org.
Tree branches and needles may be recycled at home by placing them under outdoor trees and shrubs as temporary winter mulch, or they may be chopped up and added to a backyard compost bin.
Wreaths and roping that are typically bound together with wire cannot be recycled unless the wire is removed from the greens. If there is no wiring attached, the greens may be placed directly into paper lawn bags or in reusable containers or bundled as yard trim and placed at the curb for recycling collection on recycling day.
Residents of apartments and condominiums, as well as businesses, should check with their property or business manager for specific Christmas tree recycling instructions.
After Christmas trees are collected for recycling, they are shredded into mulch that will be available in February and March at County-operated Neighborhood Mulch Preserves. The preserves are located at: Montgomery County Recycling Center, 16105 Frederick Rd. in the Derwood/Rockville/Gaithersburg area; and at E.E. Halmos Park (use the Bodmer Ave. entrance) in Poolesville. The mulch is free but must be loaded and transported by the user.
This mulch is good to use on woody plants, such as bushes, shrubs and trees; as a cover material on walkways or other areas where vegetation needs to be controlled; and as a carbon-rich addition to home compost bins. Because the mulch is “green,” it must be aged for at least six to eight months before it can be used on flowers, vegetables or other plants with tender or shallow root systems.
For more information about Christmas tree recycling, the Neighborhood Mulch Preserves and/or using mulch, call 311; 240-777-0311 from outside Montgomery County; TTY 240-777-3556; or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recycling.
Holiday Collection Service Reminder
Montgomery County residents who receive County-provided pickup of refuse or recyclable materials are reminded that since Christmas and New Years both fall on Saturday this year, there will be no change in their collection days.
Residents are also reminded that all materials must be placed at the curb no later than 7 a.m. on their regular recycling collection day.
Residents who have private contracts for trash collection, either individually or through their community/homeowners associations, should check with their collectors or associations about holiday schedules.
Holiday Light Recycling Opportunities
Broken, burnt out and/or unwanted holiday lights used on Christmas trees or around the house can be recycled, but not as part of the County’s curbside recycling program. Residents may take their holiday lights to a number of local retailers for recycling collection or they may send the lights directly to private recycling companies.
For an updated list of holiday light recycling options, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recycling and click on Recycle Your Holiday Lights.
Recycling beyond the holiday season
Montgomery County encourages residents of single-family homes, multi-family apartments and condominiums, and employees at businesses and organizations located in the county to recycle everything possible, year-round.
Residents should be able to recycle the following expanded list of materials through their recycling program, at home or at work:
Corrugated cardboard boxes; newspaper and inserts; magazines and catalogs; white and colored office/printing/copier paper; unwanted mail; envelopes, including those with windows; paperboard; shredded paper, telephone books; paperback and hardcover books; and coated paper items such as frozen food boxes, wax-coated produce boxes, milk/juice cartons, paper coffee and beverage cups, and juice boxes.
Aluminum cans and aluminum foil products; bi-metal (steel/tin) cans; empty non-hazardous aerosol cans; glass bottles and jars; plastic bottles, containers, jars, tubs, lids, pails, buckets, flower pots; plastic durable/reusable containers and lids. Please remove caps and lids from bottles and containers before placing the lids in the recycling bin.
Appliances; metal furniture; disassembled sheds; and lawn mowers. To schedule a scrap metal recycling collection, call 311 by 11 a.m. on the business day before the regular recycling collection day.
Leaves; grass clippings; brush; and garden trimmings. Place these materials in paper lawn bags or in reusable containers, or bundle brush with twine. Also try composting – placing leaves into a compost bin along with grass clippings, flowers and plant trimmings. Better yet, try grasscycling – leaving grass clippings on the lawn after it is mowed.
For more information or questions about recycling at home or at work, call 311; 240-777-0311 from outside Montgomery County; TTY 240-777-3556; or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recycling.
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Media contact: Bonnie Ayers, 240-777-6507
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Recycling details: Alan Pultyniewicz, 240-777-6480