Recycle smart this holiday season

Brookline,Massachusetts - Recycling smart means ensuring that what we put in our bins actually belongs there, which is critical for protecting our environment and supporting our local communities. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is committed to educating consumers on the dos and don’ts of recycling this holiday season — helping us stay green even when Brookline is blanketed in white!

Holiday lights

Though beautiful on your house, tree or mantel, string lights don’t belong in your recycling bin. String lights should be reused or disposed of in your trash bin

Food waste

After you’ve cleared the table, rinse cans and jars, and make sure all food packaging is empty and free of food remnants before tossing them in your recycling bin. All food waste should be placed in your compost, down your garbage disposal, or in the trash

Gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, bows and tissue paper

Gift bags can be thrown in your household recycling (just cut those string handles off!) unless there is metallic ink, foil or glitter on them, in which case, you should toss them in the trash along with wrapping paper. Tissue paper, ribbon and bows should be reused or put in the trash as well.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards and their envelopes are recyclable unless there is metallic ink, foil or glitter on them, in which case, you should toss them in the trash.

Packing peanuts, bubble wrap and padded envelopes

While cardboard boxes belong in your recycling bin, packing peanuts and padded envelopes should be put in your trash, while bubble wrap should be brought back to your supermarket to be properly recycled along with plastic wrap and plastic bags.

Paper plates, plastic cutlery, colored plastic cups and paper napkins

Disposable plates, cups, cutlery and napkins are a staple of many holiday get-togethers, but unfortunately, they cannot be recycled (the exception is clear plastic cups). These items should go in the trash after you’re done with them.

About Recycle Smart MA

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection launched Recycle Smart in summer 2018 to educate Bay Staters on what does and doesn’t belong in household recycling bins. Reducing ‘contamination’ in the recycling stream not only benefits the environment, but also reduces costs for cities and towns across Massachusetts. For more information, visit the new website,

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