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The holidays may be marketed as a time to spend cozied up with family and friends, but at the heart of it is—let’s face it—a whole lot of consumption and, as a result, a whole lot of waste.
Luckily, many of these materials are recyclable and it’s become significantly easier in recent years to dispose of them responsibly, too.
Here are some local spots where you can recycle seasonal goods, including your Christmas tree, holiday lights, and used electronics.
If you’re a holiday purist who stays clear of artificial trees, you most likely have a live evergreen to deal with following the big day.
Try not to sleep on disassembling your tree for too long, as the City of Vancouver organizes a number of Christmas tree chipping events in early January where you can bring your own to be recycled.
City staff and Lions Club volunteers chip the trees and the remains are taken to the Vancouver Landfill to be composted. The chipping is done by donation to benefit local charities, so bring cash or non-perishable food items.
Tree chipping events take place on January 9 and 10, 2016, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., at the following locations:
Kerrisdale Community Ice Rink parking lot (5670 East Boulevard, north of 41st Avenue)
Kitsilano Beach parking lot (Cornwall Avenue and Arbutus Street)
Sunset Beach upper parking lot (Beach Avenue and Broughton Street)
Rona Home & Garden (2727 East 12th Avenue, overflow parking lot north of Grandview Highway, south of 12th Avenue)
If you can’t make it to one of the events, you can have your tree picked up alongside your food scraps and yard waste by January 16, 2016 at 7 a.m.
You can also drop your tree off at the Vancouver Landfill (5400 72nd Street, Delta) or the Vancouver South Transfer Station (377 West Kent Avenue North) for free until January 31, 2016.
Be sure to remove all tinsel and decorations ahead of disposal in all three options.
Gift wrap and packaging
Forget anyone who looks down on you for carefully unpacking your gifts so that you can reuse the wrapping paper; it’s eco-conscious, not cheap.
But if you can’t help but to rip into your bounty of presents on Christmas morning, you can definitely set wrapping paper and old greeting cards out for recycling in your mixed paper bin.
Tape can stay on, but ribbons and bows should be removed and reused if possible. And take note: foil-lined wrapping paper and musical greeting cards with batteries are not accepted.
Some retailers, such as London Drugs, even accept product packaging for recycling. If you purchased an item from the store, keep the receipt and let the store do the sorting and shipping for you.
Before you toss your string lights, see if you can replace any broken bulbs with replacements to avoid unnecessary waste.
If not, you can drop them off for free at a number of light fixture recycling depots, as part of B.C.’s LightRecycle program. Find your closest participating depot here.
You can also hang onto your lights until next year for recycling. Various stores, such as Home Depot, offer discounts toward energy-efficient LED lights if you trade in your standard incandescent bulbs ahead of the holidays.
Batteries contain heavy metals that are harmful to the earth and may potentially cause air, earth, and water pollution, so they should be kept separate from household waste and recycled appropriately.
Different batteries, including household alkaline and rechargeable batteries, can be dropped off at participating recycling depots as part of the Call2Recycle program. You can find your closest location here.
Electronics and appliances
If you were lucky enough to score a snazzy new gadget this Christmas, dispose of your old electronics and appliances responsibly.
Working pieces can be donated to thrift stores or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Click here to see a full list of accepted e-Waste products.
Dead electronics, like laptops, tablets, and printers, can be dropped off at various recycling depots set up by Call2Recycle. Smartphones and other mobile devices can be recycled at designated depots provided by Recycle My Cell. Find your closest location here.
Small appliances and power tools such as blenders and electric toothbrushes can also be recycled at a number of drop-off points across the city, thanks to the Electro Recycle program. For a full list of accepted items and locations, click here.
Many retailers, including London Drugs and Best Buy, also take in electronics and appliances, as well as batteries for recycling.