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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle During Holidays

Montgomery County residents are reminded that they can help the county reach its new goal to reduce waste and recycle 70 percent of the waste stream by 2020 by reducing the amount of waste they individually generate and recycling everything possible, starting with the upcoming holiday season.

The Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), in the Department of Environmental Protection, notes that although the winter holiday season traditionally produces extra amounts of waste, there are many ways to reduce what individual households might generate now and throughout the year.

Unwanted Mail

Leading up to the holidays, many households receive larger-than-usual quantities of advertisements, sale flyers and catalogs. Before placing the unwanted ones into the recycling bin, residents should take a moment to remove their names from the company’s mailing list. Often, all that is needed to ensure removal is a call to a toll-free number.

Another way to help further reduce the volume of unwanted mail received any time of the year is to register on a “Do Not Mail” list with any of a number of organizations offering this type of service.  DSWS is a community partner with one such service, Catalog Choice, which can be accessed at  Another organization which provides a similar service is the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). To register, visit  Or, download the form from that site, complete and mail it to: DMA Choice, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY  10512.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Throughout the year, residents have opportunities to reduce the amount of waste they generate, reuse things, and recycle a wide variety of items in order to preserve valuable natural resources for the future.   However, during the holiday season when purchasing and wrapping gifts, and entertaining can increase, DSWS offers the following tips:


• Take along reusable shopping bags from home instead of paying for and using new paper or plastic shopping bags.  Reuse paper and plastic bags.  If you have paper or plastic bags that you no longer need, recycle them: plastic bags can be recycled at most local grocery stores; paper bags can be recycled at home along with other mixed paper.

• Consolidate all purchases into one bag, rather than getting a new bag for each item. Ask for a bag only if necessary.

• When buying gifts to be mailed, select items that are easy to ship and don’t require excess packaging.

• Shop for gifts at antique stores or estate sales–one person’s cast away is another person’s treasure.  Donate unwanted gifts, along with last year’s gifts that the children have outgrown or that you no longer need, to charitable organizations.

• Buy and give reusable bags as gift items; many unique types, sizes and designs are available, and will come in handy long after the holidays are over.


• Items to be shipped or mailed can be wrapped in reused brown paper bags from grocery or other stores.

• Some boxes are attractive enough that they don’t need wrapping. Simply add a bow or reusable ribbon.

• Reusable gift bags can save time when wrapping gifts and can be used again.

• For oversized gifts like sporting equipment, artwork, or bicycles just tie a ribbon and bow around them.

• Try wrapping just the box top of items, rather than the entire box.

• Sunday comics or outdated maps also make unique gift wraps.

• Use reusable cloth bags to wrap items; the recipient will also be able to reuse this bag all year long.

• Reuse wrapping paper — have scissors handy when opening gifts so paper doesn’t get damaged when tearing off tape.

• Make the wrap a part of the gift: put goodies in ceramic pottery, or enfold jewelry in a new scarf or pair of gloves.

• Reuse packing cartons and shipping materials such as packaging peanuts, shredded newspaper and bubble wrap. Donate excess packaging materials to local mailing centers.

• Think of giving gifts that don’t have to be wrapped at all: tickets to concerts, museums, and/or sporting events, gift certificates or gift cards, and house plants.


• Don’t throw out any leftovers. Put them in reusable containers for guests to take home.

• Holiday cooking can generate many types of containers that are acceptable for recycling in the County’s expanded recycling program.   But before recycling them, consider if some of these containers could be reused for saving leftovers.   If so, send packed containers home with guests and store remaining leftovers in the refrigerator or put them in the freezer.

• Rent dishes, glassware, table cloths and cloth napkins instead of using disposable items.

• Purchase food items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging.

• Have children make creative decorations out of things around the house or yard, such as pinecones, leaves, branches, etc.

For questions about waste reduction or recycling or for more information, visit:, or call 311 or 240-777-0311.

Sign Up for Electronic Holiday Collection Schedule Reminders

With the holiday season approaching, Montgomery County residents who receive County-provided collection of refuse or recyclable materials are reminded that they can sign up to receive electronic reminders about holiday collection schedules.  Residents can join the DSWS email notification list by visiting

Residents who have private contracts for trash collection, either individually or through their community/homeowners’ associations, should check with their collectors or associations about holiday schedules.

To determine if they have County-provided or private collection service, residents can use the online Collection Day Lookup Tool at; click on “Collection Services.”  Or, call Montgomery County’s Customer Service Center at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850).

Recycling Beyond the Holiday Season

Montgomery County encourages residents of single-family homes, multi-family apartments and condominiums, and employees at businesses and organizations located in the county to recycle everything possible, year-round.

Residents should be able to recycle the following expanded list of materials through their recycling program, at home or at work:

Mixed Paper:

Corrugated cardboard boxes; newspaper and inserts; magazines and catalogs; white and

colored office/printing/copier paper; unwanted mail; envelopes, including those with windows; paperboard; shredded paper; telephone books; paperback and hardcover books that cannot be donated or reused; frozen food boxes; wax-coated produce boxes, milk/juice cartons; paper coffee and beverage cups; and juice and drink boxes.

Commingled Materials:

Aluminum cans and aluminum foil products; bi-metal (steel/tin) cans; empty

non-hazardous aerosol cans; glass bottles and jars; plastic bottles and caps; plastic containers, jars, tubs, lids, pails, buckets, flower pots; plastic durable/reusable containers and lids; #1 PET thermoform plastic packaging, including plastic clamshell containers, trays, deli containers, lids, domes and cups.

 Scrap Metal Items:

Items that are predominantly (50 percent or more) made of metal, including household appliances; metal furniture; disassembled metal sheds; lawn mowers; and more.  To schedule a scrap metal recycling collection, call 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850), or schedule a collection at

Yard Trim:

Leaves; grass clippings; brush; and garden trimmings.  Place these materials in paper lawn bags or in reusable containers, or bundle brush with twine. Also try composting – placing leaves into a compost bin or pile along with grass clippings, flowers, and plant trimmings; and better yet, try grasscycling – leaving grass clippings on the lawn after it is mowed.

For more information or questions about recycling at home or at work, visit or call Montgomery County’s Customer Service Center at 311 (out-of-County: 240-777-0311, TTY: 301-251-4850).

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One Response to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle During Holidays”

  1. On November 23, 2012 at 4:03 am responded with... #

    Here is the right place to recycle your scrap metal. It is very effective for us.

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