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Where to recycle all your holiday detritus

Chip Ellis
Nicole Miller of South Charleston and her daughter Sabrina, 10, empty their recycling bins at the Slack Street recycling facility this week.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maybe the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, but now they're in a pile in the corner, surrounded by mounds of  crumpled wrapping paper and discarded boxes.As the detritus of the holiday season stacks up, where can local residents go to recycle the boxes and paper and stuff that's left over after the tinsel's lost its luster?"There's all kinds of alternatives for recycling," said Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority Executive Director James Young. "Wrapping paper can be recycled in your regular recycling bin," Young said. "It just can't have glitter on it or anything fancy. It's the same with your gift boxes and bags."Done with your needle-bare Christmas tree? Young said many cities pick up trees at curbside or provide drop-off locations where they can be taken.Cities can take old Christmas trees and grind them up for compost. Or take your old tree to the Capitol Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 4. The trees will be given to the state Division of Natural Resources to be turned into fish habitats.Young said Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season than at any other time of year. But much of what we use over the holidays can be recycled, from the cans the pumpkin pie filling comes in to the Christmas cards that decorate the mantel.The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority recently debuted a new website,, that provides detailed information on what local residents can recycle and where. "It's really user-friendly for a lot of people," Young said.On the website, residents can search by location to find out about recycling programs, or search by a specific item or type of material to see where they can take it to recycle or who might pick it up.And the website doesn't just cater to Charleston's Slack Street recycling center, which the Solid Waste Authority turned over to a private company last year.
"We called every single place listed on the website to make sure what they took," Young  said. "There are a lot of opportunities people aren't aware of."Young said old paint can be taken to the Habitat for Humanity's ReStore in Charleston, Best Buy and other retailers recycle old VCRs, gaming systems and other electronics.The Kanawha recycling website lists specific locations arranged by city where residents can take glass, paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, household items, electronics and automotive products like old antifreeze or used motor oil.But Young said instead of recycling old material, it's better to reuse it or not use it in the first place. Bows and gift bags can be reused from year to year, and wrapping paper can be reused if unwrapped carefully."Some gift bags have been going around my family for five years," he said. Or use butcher paper or newsprint for wrapping.
"There are templates online that tell you how to take a cereal box and make a gift box," Young said.Biodegradable plates and cutlery are now available that can be composted. Or better yet, use your regular plates and utensils and wash them after a party.Young said that if people try to think greener, less trash will go into landfills during the holidays, and less energy can be used. "They even have solar-powered Christmas lights now," he said.Reach Rusty Marks at or 304-348-1215. 
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