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How to dispose of almost everything left over from your holiday celebrations

christmas ornament

It should come as no surprise that the holiday season produces more trash than usual. In fact, according to research from Stanford University, Americans throw away 25% more during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year.

All of that waste produces 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week. One way to cut down on all that debris is to know how to properly dispose of the holiday items that are no longer bringing you cheer. 

Here's everything you need to know about getting rid of everything from your tree on down to your holiday cards. 

The Christmas tree

christmas tree
Credit Pixabay
Make sure all trimmings are removed before placing your tree out for pick-up.

The following only applies to real trees; if you're looking to get rid of a fake tree, that goes out with your regular trash. If disposed of properly, your real tree is recyclable. First is to remove all items from the tree, including ornaments, tinsel, stands and lights. Do not use a tree bag or cut your tree into pieces. Simply place your tree curbside on your next scheduled yard waste/recycling day for pick up. 

If you live in Hamilton County, your tree will then be chipped and used as pine mulch or added to large compost piles. If you live in Kentucky, the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is collecting trees to provide food and protection for fish in lakes throughout the state. Through mid-January, you can drop off your tree — minus all the trimmings — at one of the 39 drop-off sites nearest you

Holiday lights

holiday lights
Credit Pixabay

Many Tri-State counties are offering opportunities to recycle broken or unwanted holiday lights through January. (In Dearborn County, you have this chance all year round.) And, in some cases, the scrap value of the lights collected will be donated back to Great Parks of Hamilton County. 

Cardboard boxes

how to recycle cardboard boxes
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Remove any Styrofoam, plastic bags, or other non-paper packaging from your box before disposing of it.

Rules vary by county, but in general, you should remove any Styrofoam, plastic bags, or other non-paper packaging from the cardboard box and flatten it to place in or next to your recycling cart. 

The city of Cincinnati recommends to not advertise the arrival of a new TV, sound system or other large, highly value item by placing the box it came in in the middle of any cardboard stack, or dropping it off at a free community drop-off site around the city.

Cards and other holiday paper waste

christmas presents
Credit Pixabay
When it comes to the recycling bin, glitter is a no-go.

Such items may not have a huge impact on landfills and recycling streams, but there are things to know before placing it with your recycling: Anything with glitter or foil on it should not be placed with recycling. Wrapping paper can be recycled, too, so long as it doesn't have plastic in it. 

This story was first published Dec. 31, 2019 and has been updated. 

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.