Monday, April 15, 2024

How to Recycle and Repurpose Household Items After the Holidays

Tissue paper in a bag may be less effort than wrapping, but the tissue paper is not recyclable. (WYDaily file)

HAMPTON ROADS — A clean sweep will be in order when the holidays wind down.

Before putting any items out with the trash,, a region-wide public awareness and education campaign, asks you to consider whether your seasonal accouterments and other household items are reusable, recyclable, or if they might come in handy for someone else.

“Give thought to the items that you plan to let go,” said Rebekah Eastep, an team leader. “Thrift and creative reuse stores may love having your gently used or leftover ribbon, bows and crafting supplies. Or you can save these to use again next year, cutting down on both time and expense.”

Here’s the rundown from on how to safely dispose or repurpose holiday trimmings and other household items:

Holiday cards, mail, packaging, wrapping — As long as holiday cards and envelopes do not have glitter or metallic accents, these stationary items can go in the recycling container. This goes for non-coated, plain wrapping paper and plain gift bags too — without glitter or foil.

Cardboard boxes are also recyclable. What is not recyclable: holiday ornaments and décor, ribbons, bows and tissue paper. Reuse or donate the items or put them in the trash.

Naturally-grown Christmas trees and fresh greenery — Beginning on or around Dec. 26, some Hampton Roads localities collect and chip Christmas trees into mulch or compost that are used to beautify city and county public spaces. Make sure the trees are free of ornaments, lights, tinsel and stands before placing curbside.

Another option is to place the tree in a quiet corner of the yard, where it can provide a haven for birds and other wildlife.

Holiday lighting — String lights should never be placed in household recycling containers but can be recycled through specialty recycling programs.

Old paint cans, batteries and any toxic household products — If you spruced up the home for the holidays, set aside products that are considered hazardous household waste (HHW), such as old paint cans, leftover cleaning fluids, fluorescent light bulbs and home improvement products.

Improper disposal of such waste can pose a threat to the environment and human health.

Plastic bags —These should never go in the recycling container, but you can take plastic bags to most chain grocery stores for recycling. Resolve to have reusable tote bags on hand when shopping in the future (if you don’t do this already).

Retired electronics — If a new PC, laptop, printer or phone made your holiday bright, set aside the retired versions for donation or special collection. Some thrift stores accept electronics and resell them to support charitable causes. Other disposal options include e-waste recycling and disposal programs at electronic stores or those hosted by the Southeastern Public Service Authority and Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority.

Clothing and items for regifting — Clothing is not recyclable, but your retired garments could spruce up someone else’s wardrobe. Clean out closets to see what to take to local consignment and thrift stores that benefit local nonprofit organizations in Hampton Roads.

For gifts received that you would not or could not use, asks you to consider regifting those to someone who would.

For more guidelines and tips for keeping Hampton Roads clean and green, visit

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