The presents have been unwrapped, the food has been eaten, the decorations have been taken down, and life is slowly beginning to return to normal. The holiday season inevitably leaves us with warm memories to hold close and some other things we need to shed: A few extra pounds, that string of dead lights, and all of the other stuff we’ve collected.
Here we have your guide to responsibly shedding all that holiday “waste” in the most eco-friendly AND affordable way!
Now, excuse us while we go work on our own post-festivity waist reduction.
Drop-off facilities for your trees
Bring your tree to us and we’ll make sure it gets one last use when it is taken to either McNeil Wood & Yard Waste Depot to be used as fuel to produce electricity, or chipped before taken to Green Mountain Compost. Remove all ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations, and bring it directly to McNeil or to any CSWD Drop-Off Center (except for the Burlington location on Pine Street).
Remove all artificial decorations, take it out of the stand, and don’t put it in a bag!
- Burlington: The Department of Public Works begins picking up trees on Tuesday, January 8th. They continue until all trees have been collected.
- Essex & Essex Junction: Public Works crews begin picking up trees on Wednesday, January 2nd. (Trees will be picked up by Friday, January 4th, weather permitting.) Learn more on the Essex Town website.
- Other: If you subscribe to curbside trash and recycling pickup, your hauler may offer Christmas tree pickup for an extra fee. Find their contact number on our hauler page.
If wrapping paper has any type of foil, Mylar, or plastic coating, it belongs in the trash. You can tell if your wrapping paper is coated with any of these by pinching the edge of the paper and pulling it apart slightly. If you see a plastic or foil layer appear, then it’s trash. Remove ribbons and bows for reuse, and recycle the wrapping paper along with other mixed paper. Tape is OK to leave on.
Ribbons and bows
These get very little wear & tear, and can often be saved & reused for next year. If you really want to get rid of them, they belong in the trash.
Flatten it, place it in your blue bin and set it out with the rest of your curbside recycling, or bring it to one of our Drop-Off Center locations (must be clean and dry).
- Some curbside haulers require cardboard to be no larger than 2′ x 2′
(Please call your hauler for specifications)
- Up to 4′ on any one side at Drop-Off Centers
Cut larger pieces to a smaller size.
Plastic packaging can go in the recycling bin if it’s rigid. Remove paper inserts from plastic “blister packs” and clamshells—both can be recycled separately. Please do not put any plastic bags or other filmy plastics in your recycling bin! Most grocery stores and some other locations accept them for recycling through a separate program.
Styrofoam of any kind, including packing peanuts, is not recyclable in Chittenden County. If reuse is not an option for you, Styrofoam products belong in the trash. Visit our Packaging Reuse Options page for a list of local organizations that accept packaging materials for reuse.
Bubble wrap and packing peanuts
A number of local stores (like UPS) will take your bubble wrap & packing peanuts for reuse. If you must throw it away, all filmy plastic and styrofoam belongs in the trash.
If your holiday lights burn out, or you’re replacing them with newer, energy-efficient LEDs, bring them to any CSWD Drop-Off Center and drop them in our scrap metal bin for recycling at no charge.
If your lights include larger, old-fashioned bulbs, please remove the bulbs before recycling the rest of the string in the scrap metal bin. You can throw the bulbs away with your regular trash.
Please DO NOT put batteries in your recycling bin. Bring batteries of all types to any CSWD Drop-Off Center for special recycling at no charge (quantity limits apply to certain battery types). Find even more battery recycling locations at Call2Recycle.org.
Better yet: Consider getting rechargeable batteries to reduce your overall energy footprint. Some rechargeable batteries can be reused hundreds of times before they stop holding a charge.
Visit CSWD’s Electronics Recycling Page to learn more about which electronics are covered under this program.
Old clothes, furniture, toys, etc.
Check out our Reuse Options page for a list of dozens of local organizations that accept unwanted items that are still in good shape. There are local nonprofits that take almost anything, from automotive parts to clothing, books to computers, and toys to dishwashers.