Montgomery County residents are reminded that they can help the County reach its goal to reduce waste and recycle 70 percent of the waste stream by 2020. By recycling everything possible, they will reduce the amount of waste they generate.
The County has the highest recycling rate in Maryland, and ongoing participation in recycling initiatives by residents, employees and others is critically important as the County strives to achieve its ambitious recycling goal. The upcoming holidays, with various festivities taking place, offer great opportunities for everyone to recycle many items generated during the winter holiday season.
The County’s Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), Department of Environmental Protection, notes that while the winter holiday season traditionally produces extra amounts of waste, there are ways to reduce what individual households might generate now and throughout the year.
In the weeks leading up to the holidays, many households receive larger-than-usual quantities of advertisements, sale flyers and catalogs. Before placing all the unwanted mail into the recycling bin, residents should take a moment to remove their names from the company’s mailing list. Often, all that is needed is a call to a toll-free number provided in the mailing.
Another way to help reduce the volume of unwanted mail received at any time of the year is to register on a “Do Not Mail” list with any of a number of organizations offering this type of service. DSWS has been a community partner with one such service, Catalog Choice, which can be accessed at http://montgomerymd.catalogchoice.org. Another organization which provides a similar service is the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). To register, visit www.DMAchoice.org. Or, download the form from that site, complete and mail it to: DMA Choice, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Throughout the year, residents have opportunities to reduce the amount of waste they generate and reuse and recycle a wide variety of items in order to preserve valuable natural resources for the future. For the holiday season when purchasing and wrapping gifts and entertaining all increase, DSWS offers the following tips:
• Take reusable shopping bags from home instead of paying for and using new paper or plastic shopping bags. Reuse paper and plastic bags again. Paper or plastic bags that are no longer needed can be recycled -- plastic bags at most local grocery stores; paper bags at home, along with other mixed paper and cardboard.
• Consolidate smaller-sized purchases into one bag, rather than getting a new bag for each item. Ask for a bag only if necessary.
• When buying gifts to be mailed, select items that are easy to ship and don’t require excess packaging.
• Shop for gifts at consignment shops, antique stores or estate sales--one person’s cast away is another person’s treasure. Unclutter space and closets, and donate unwanted gifts, along with last year’s gifts that the children have outgrown or that are no longer needed, to charitable organizations.
• Buy and give reusable bags as gift items; many unique types, sizes and designs are available. They will come in handy long after the holidays are over.
• Items to be shipped or mailed can be wrapped in reused brown or decorative paper bags from grocery or other stores.
• Some boxes are attractive enough that they don’t need wrapping. Simply add a bow or reusable ribbon.
• Gift bags can save time when wrapping and can be used again.
• For large, oversized or bulky gifts like sporting equipment, artwork or bicycles, simply tie a ribbon and bow around them.
• Wrap just the top of boxes, rather than the entire box.
• Sunday comics, outdated maps and remnants of fabrics also make unique gift wraps.
• Use reusable cloth bags to wrap items; the recipient will also be able to reuse this bag all year long.
• Reuse wrapping paper -- have scissors or letter openers handy when opening gifts so paper doesn’t get damaged when removing tape.
• Make the wrap a part of the actual gift: put treats into a glass vase, wrap jewelry in a scarf, or place a tin of tea leaves in a ceramic mug.
• Reuse packing cartons and shipping materials such as packing peanuts, shredded newspaper and bubble wrap. Donate excess packaging materials to local mailing centers.
• Consider giving gifts that require no wrapping: tickets to concerts, museums, and/or sporting events, gift certificates or gift cards, and house plants.
• Don’t throw out leftovers. Put them in reusable containers for guests to take home.
• Holiday cooking can generate many types of containers that can be recycled in the County’s recycling program. But before recycling them, consider if any could be reused for saving leftovers. If so, send packed containers home with guests and store remaining leftovers in the refrigerator or put them in the freezer.
• Rent dishes, glassware, table cloths and cloth napkins instead of using disposable items.
• Purchase food items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging.
• Have children make creative decorations out of things around the house or yard, such as pinecones, sprigs, leaves, branches, etc.
Christmas Tree Recycling:
When the holidays are over, recycle live Christmas trees. After they are composted or chipped for mulch, Christmas trees are given a new life, so be sure to recycle the tree in a natural state.
• Remove the stand and all decorations -- including lights, ornaments, tinsel and garlands. Be sure there is no metal attached to the tree.
• Remove any plastic bags from the tree.
Residents of single-family homes may recycle Christmas trees at the curb on their regular recycling collection day. Businesses and residents of apartments and condominiums should check with their property/business managers or representatives for specific Christmas tree recycling instructions.
Live Christmas tree branches and needles can be recycled at home by placing them under trees and shrubs as a temporary winter mulch -- or chop them up and add them to a compost pile.
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 that cannot be donated or reused; frozen food boxes; wax-coated produce boxes, milk/juice cartons; paper coffee and beverage cups; and juice and drink boxes.
Aluminum cans and aluminum foil products; bi-metal (steel/tin) cans; empty non-hazardous aerosol cans; glass bottles and jars; plastic bottles and caps; plastic containers, jars, tubs, lids, pails, buckets, flower pots; plastic durable/reusable containers and lids; #1 PET thermoform plastic packaging, including plastic clamshell containers, trays, deli containers, lids, domes and cups.
Scrap Metal Items:
Items that are predominantly (50 percent or more) made of metal -- including appliances; metal furniture; disassembled metal sheds; lawn mowers; etc. To schedule a scrap metal recycling collection from a single-family home, call 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850), or schedule a collection at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311. Businesses and residents of apartments and condominiums should check with their property/business managers or representatives for specific scrap metal recycling instructions.
Leaves; grass clippings; brush; and garden trimmings. Place the materials in paper lawn bags or in reusable containers, or bundle brush with twine. Also, try composting – placing leaves into a compost bin or pile along with grass clippings, flowers and plant trimmings; and better yet, try grasscycling – leaving grass clippings on the lawn after it is mowed.
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For more information or questions about waste reduction or recycling at home or at work, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recycling or call Montgomery County's Customer Service Center at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850).