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Greening the Holidays

End-of-the-year holidays, celebrations, and special occasions usually generate more trash and waste than other "normal" times of the year.  Check out these tips and tricks for recycling more and creating a lot less trash during your special event.

Christmas trees

Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. While your tree won't fit in the recycling bin with your newspapers and bottles, you can recycle your tree.  Many cities offer programs to turn your tree to mulch or wood chips.  Call your city service department or trash hauler for more information.

Christmas cards

When the holidays are over, send your cards to St. Jude's Ranch, a nonprofit home for youths that collects old holiday cards for reuse. Either cut off the backs of the cards or leave them intact. Children at St. Jude's earn money by creating new holiday cards from the old.  Visit 

You can also include your Christmas cards in with your city’s regular mixed paper recycling program.  Do not include foil, ribbon, or photo cards with the mixed paper.

Gift wrap, gift boxes, ribbon and bows

Gift wrap paper, holiday cards and boxes that are 100 percent paper can be recycled. Don’t forget to have your recycling container or kraft paper bag handy while everyone is opening gifts!  Recycle the cards and wrappings with your regular curbside paper collection or take it to a local mixed paper drop-off.  Please do not include foil, plastic coating, ribbon, bows and glitter in the recycle bins. 

Pass it on!

Donate unwanted clothes, toys, and other unwanted items to non-profit organizations that accept donations.  The District publishes a book called Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff that lists over 125 local organizations that accept donations year-round. 

The guide was updated in 2014. A free copy of the book can be ordered, or you can check out the book's searchable database at


During the nation’s busiest shopping season, bring your own shopping bags. Paper, plastic and cloth are all good; the latter two can be folded easily into purses and pockets until used.   Or consolidate your purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store on your shopping rounds.

Cell phones and electronics

Getting a new cell phone for Christmas? Drop off that old phone at any AT&T, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Staples, Verizon, or other retail store that offers recycling services in store.  Each year, 130 million cell phones are thrown out, weighing approximately 65,000 tons. Recycling your old phone prevents hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium and lead from ending up in our landfills.

Best Buy and Staples stores accept most electronics devices for recycling.  Drop-off items in store for free.  Other retailers also offer free recycling programs throughout the year.  The District maintains a list of these free programs here.

Energy-saving holiday lights

Decorate your house with LED lights that use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights, and save your family up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season!  

During the month of December, the Solid Waste District collects broken, burned out or tangled strings of holiday lights for recycling.  Simply drop unwanted light strings, power cords and power strips in the marked box in our lobby at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights.  Hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30.  (Some city service departments also collect lights from residents as a part of this program.  Check with your community.) Sorry, we cannot accept pre-lit trees or garland.  Lights must be removed from the item for proper recycling. offers free a Christmas light recycling program; lights can be shipped to the company for recycling from October 1-February 28.  Visit their website for more information. 

Christmas Light Source accepts holiday lights all year-round.  Proceeds from this recycling program are used to purchase educational books and toys for the Marine Toys for Tots program in early December. 

Some retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart collect Christmas lights for a few weeks during the winter holidays.  Check with your local store.

Fryer oil

Over 2 million folks across the country deep-fry their turkey every Thanksgiving, and cleaning up can be troublesome. With 3-to-5 gallons of used oil on your hands, disposing of it isn't as easy as just putting it in the garbage.  If your turkey fryer still has oil in it from the last holiday meal, drain it out and take it to your community's next household hazardous waste collection day.  We're happy to accept and recycle fryer oil from Cuyahoga County households. 

Additionally, restaurants and bars might be willing to take your fryer oil and add it in to their regular fryer oil collection.  Locally, fryer oil is converted to biodiesel by Full Circle Fuels in Oberlin, Ohio.


Clean Styrofoam #6 EPS (formed packing material) can be recycled at Buckeye Industries.  Buckeye Industries has two locations: 33851 Curtis Boulevard, Suite 207 in Eastlake (440/942-1605) and 12131 Bennington Avenue in Cleveland (216/671-8224). Buckeye Industries will take Styrofoam #6 EPS from individuals as well as businesses. The Styrofoam is processed through a densifier and is sold to a company that uses the product to make molded picture frames. 

The Solid Waste District accepts white, formed blocks of Styrofoam (no peanuts, foam sheeting, colored foam or food trays) at our facility at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights. A marked collection bin is located in the lobby; hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.  Some city service departments also offer a Styrofoam drop-off for residents (Cleveland Heights, Lakewood).

Food grade Styrofoam "clamshell" containers, cups, and trays cannot be recycled here in Northeast Ohio.

Styrofoam peanuts from packaging can be taken to Northcoast Recycling, 1305 Lloyd Road in Wickliffe.  For more information, call (440) 943-6968.  Packing peanuts can also be donated to a store that ship packages like the UPS stores.  Or reuse it as your own packing material.  

Drop off extra packing peanuts at local private mailing centers. Call the Plastic Loosefill Council’s Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214 for the names of local businesses that reuse them. Stores often offer discounts for returning packing materials like cartons and boxes.


Batteries that are rechargeable and/or contain heavy metals should be recycled. This includes lithium, lithium ion, nickel metal hydride, zinc air, and lead acid batteries. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) provides recycling drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries at area retail stores.  For a complete list call 1-800-8- BATTERY or visit

Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste. These batteries are classified by the federal government as non-hazardous waste.  Alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals - steel, zinc and manganese - and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal.  Cost-effective and environmentally safe recycling processes are not yet universally available for alkaline batteries.


Food and holiday celebrations go together like jingle and bells.  Rather than throwing the excess food away, donate leftovers to a local food pantry or organization that feeds the needy.  The Cleveland Foodbank accepts food products from all types of donors including caterers and commercial entities.  See their guidelines for making a food and fund drives donation or a food industry donation to the Cleveland Foodbank.

Calendar of Events

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program
City Service Departments

April 1-30, 2015
Computer recycling events
City service departments

April 11, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive
Bay Village

April 14, 2015
Recycling Container Grant Training
Garfield Heights

April 17, 2015
Waste & Recycling $ense for Business seminar
Garfield Heights

April 18, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive
Broadview Heights

April 19, 2015
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea

April 22, 2015
Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2015
Compost Seminar & Bin Sale
Moreland Hills

April 25, 2015
BBB/Rad Air shredding events
Parma Heights and Solon

April 28, 2015
Compost Seminar & Bin Sale
South Euclid

May 2, 2015
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Patch Event
CanalWay Center

May 16, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive


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