LUBBOCK, Texas – Along with being the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can actually be one of the most wasteful times as well. 

According to the Stanford Recycling Center, household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to the New Year. Fortunately, there’s a way we can cut back on that waste.

“There’s actually a lot that you can recycle,” said Nick Nowicki, owner of Good Earth Recycling. “The main thing is just keeping it organized, keeping it clean, and just being aware of the few problem items that we’re not able to recycle.”

Nowicki said it’s important to recycle the right way because items that shouldn’t be recycled can actually do more harm than help. Non-recyclables can ruin machinery and contaminate other items which, in turn, causes them all to end up in the trash.

“Any kind of decorations or ribbons we’re not able to recycle,” Nowicki said. “We can’t recycle toys or lights that you might have in your house or your yard.”

Nowicki said there’s a common mistake people make while recycling over the holidays.

“Anything with glitter we’re not able to recycle, because you have all of these microplastics on paper, and you can’t separate the two out,” Nowicki said. “You have two different types of materials on one item, and because we can’t sort it out, we’re not able to recycle it.”

If you are unsure if you can recycle something, Nowicki said, “when in doubt, throw it out.” 

He said you can recycle gift bags, tissue paper and wrapping paper as long as they aren’t coated, glossy or embellished.

For cardboard boxes, make sure to break them down.

“You don’t have to worry about the staples, the tape or the labels,” Nowicki said. “Those are all going to come off during the recycling process.”

In the holiday spirit, Nowicki said to make sure to repurpose your trash into treasure.

“As long as everything’s broken down, bagged and rinsed out, then, for the most part, there’s a ton that you can recycle after Christmas.”

Recyclable holiday items:

  • Regular wrapping paper (no plastic coating, glitter, or foil)
  • Cardboard boxes (flattened)
  • Paper gift bags and boxes (no plastic coating, glitter, or foil)
  • Tissue paper (no glitter or foil)
  • Holiday cards and envelopes (no plastic coating, glitter, or foil)
  • Glass bottles and jars (clean and empty)
  • Food cans and soda cans (clean and empty)

Non-recyclable holiday items:

  • Toys
  • Electronics
  • Christmas lights
  • Ornaments
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Napkins
  • Food waste
  • Packing peanuts

Live Christmas trees can also be recycled. The City of Lubbock Solid Waste Services Department offers residents live Christmas tree drop-off recycling at its permanent Citizen Convenience Stations. The trees must be free of all decorations and debris before being placed in the roll-off bins located outside the gates at the following locations:

  • Southside: 1631 84th St.
  • Northside: 208 Municipal Dr.
  • South Milwaukee: 7308 Milwaukee Ave.
  • North Quaker: 4307 Adrian St.

The roll-off bins outside the gates at the four designated drop-off sites will be available until Jan. 9. In observance of New Year’s, the city’s offices and services will be closed from Dec. 31 – Jan. 2. Regular business hours will resume Jan. 3.

After Jan. 9, the roll-offs will be located inside the gates and residents can drop off the fresh-cut trees from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday, throughout the month of January. For more information, you can visit the city’s website.