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Recycling and reuse tips to get you through the holiday season

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Spending the holidays reusing and recycling this year!

This holiday season, local recycling professionals are urging Vermonters to educate themselves about which types of materials can go in their blue bins.

There's even a short little tune you can use to remind yourself of the types of recyclable plastics.

"One, two, five, keep the earth alive," sang Rhonda Mace on Vermont Edition. Mace is the school outreach coordinator for the Chittenden Solid Waste District, which processes about half of the state's blue bin recycling. "If you put sixes or sevens in the bin, don't fret it," she adds. (She's still working out the rhyme for that part.)

Mace said she tries to remind kids — who then remind their parents — about the importance of cleaning off items before recycling them. "No food, no drink. Guys, remember that!" she said.

"Peanut butter keeps me up at night," added Beth Parent, CSWD's community engagement and outreach manager. "If you think about the folks who are working at our materials recycling facility, they're touching those," she said. "I try and be so mindful, so I rinse everything out and really give it a deep dive, especially for peanut butter."

And what about all that packaging that tends to appear this time of year? For something to be recyclable, it generally should be made of only one material. "All cardboard, all paper, all plastic, all metal or all glass," said Mace. Paper envelopes with bubble wrap inside? That's trash.

If you have something you can't recycle but also can't bear to trash, consider reaching out to an organization like rePlay Arts. The Upper Valley nonprofit works to divert usable materials from landfills to use for art making. They also provide opportunities for creative exploration through workshops and events.

Co-founder Melanie Adsit said they're currently accepting donations of art and craft supplies like paint, brushes, yarn, popsicle sticks and sequins. "We just want to get it out of people's basements and closets where it's sitting and collecting dust, and put it in the hands of people who will really use it," she said.

rePlay Arts plans to expand its community offerings by opening a storefront in White River Junction early next year.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.