Most of us recycle our trash. Not all of it, of course, but glass, cardboard, food boxes, and more. We will probably have more "stuff" to throw away and recycle this holiday season but you should know there are a lot of things that you can't recycle.

According to the Stanford University Recycling Center, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's than any other time of the year, and that amounts to about 25 million tons of garbage, or an additional 1 million gallons a week. Amazing!

Bay Area Sees Major Spike In Cardboard Recycling After The Holidays
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So, rather than list all the things you can recycle, here are many things you cannot. This being Christmas and Hanukkah season, the number one thing you should not recycle is gift wrapping paper and tissue paper. Yep, it's a no-no on wrapping paper, just throw it away.

Gift pile
Beata Becla/Getty Images

Other things to remember not to recycle according to local Grand Rapids recyclers are:

  • Toys
  • Shrink Wrap
  • Electronics
  • Foam (plates, cups take-out boxes)
  • Batteries
  • Plastic-coated cartons (juice, milk)
  • Dirty food containers
  • Christmas Lights*
  • Paper plates and Napkins
  • Photographs
  • Broken glass (that is considered a hazardous material)
  • Light bulbs
  • Tires
Andy Rent/TSM
Andy Rent/TSM

*If you live in Kent County, there are three locations to recycle your old Christmas lights.


  • North Kent Waste & Recycling Center in Rockford (2908 10 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341)
  • Administrative & SafeChem Center in Grand Rapids (1045 Wealthy St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504)
  • South Kent Waste & Recycling Center in Byron Center (10300 S Kent Dr SW, Byron Center, MI 49315)

There will probably be a lot of empty boxes left under the tree, and those are fine to recycle, but please remember to break them down.

And if you have large cardboard boxes, break them or cut them down so that they are no bigger the 3'X3' so that they will easily be disposed of at the recycling center.

A little extra time, consideration and care will go a log way in helping our waste disposal and preserving our planet.

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