Reduce, reuse and recycle this holiday season

Home for the Holidays
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Holiday presents

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The holidays are almost upon on and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wants to make sure residents know what should be recycled and what should be thrown away.

Gift materials

There are so many options when it comes to gift wrapping: ribbons, bows, wrapping and tissue paper. But after you open your gifts, what should you do with the wrapping?

When it comes to these materials, the DEC says to take time and consider how to dispose of them. Most of these items can be reused, recycled, composted or thrown in the trash.

  • Glossy paper: Reuse, recycle, garbage
  • Metallic paper: Reuse, garbage
  • Cellophane: Reuse, garbage
  • Plain paper: Reuse, recycle, compost, garbage
  • Tissue paper: Reuse, garbage
  • Paperboard tubes: Reuse, recycle, compost
  • Paperboard boxes: Reuse, recycle, compost
  • Ribbons: Reuse, garbage

Packaging and shipping materials

If you received packages in the mail this season, you’re most likely wondering what to do with the shipping materials. The DEC has some suggestions, but you should also check you local recycling guidelines.

  • Film plastics (bubble wrap, air pillows): Reuse, return to retail recycling
  • Paper (coiled or honeycomb paper wrap, paper air pillows): Reuse, home recycling, home compost
  • Starch packing peanuts: Reuse, home compost
  • Plant-based film plastics (bubble wrap, air pillows): Reuse

More information about retail recycling programs can be found on DEC’s website.


Most electronics are illegal to be thrown in the trash under New York’s electronic waste law, which means they need to be recycled. If you receive new electronics during the holidays, the DEC wants you to recycle your old electronics responsibly.

Electronics that need to be recycled:

  • Computers (desktops, laptops, e-readers, tablets, etc.)
  • Computer accessories (mice, keyboards, monitors, printers, etc.)
  • Small electronic equipment (DVRs, DVD players, MP3 players, video game consoles, etc.)
  • Televisions

To recycle electronics, you can look for recycling opportunities including permanent collection locations, local collection events, mail-back programs, or at-home pickup. Manufacturers of this equipment are also required to provide consumers a free way to recycle their electronics.

For cell phones, wireless service providers that sell phones are required to provide the free reuse and recycling of up to 10 cell phones from any person or pay for the shipping of those phones to a recycling program. You can contact your local service provider for more recycling program details.

For more information about electronic waste recycling, you can visit the DEC website.


In addition to recycling, the DEC wants to remind residents to try and reduce holiday waste. This includes:

  • Purchasing wrapping paper, cards, and gifts made with recycled material
  • Gifting personal belongings that you no longer use
  • Wrapping gifts with newspaper, comics, and pages from old magazines
  • Using reusable gift bags and wraps instead of single-use wrapping paper
  • Gifting your experiences or services instead of material items
  • Buying used and local to support your community’s economy and check out materials exchange groups on social media

More information about reducing, reusing, recycling and composting can be found on the DEC website.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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