Recycling wrapping paper? You might actually be adding to a landfill

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Christmas has come and gone, and for many families that means a pile of leftover wrapping paper, gift bags, greeting cards, and holiday decor.  Even if the paper is clean and dry - most of it can't be recycled.

Wrapping paper should not go in the recycling bin unless you specifically purchased recyclable paper.  The same goes for tissue paper, ribbon, and bows.  Even things life gift boxes, bags, or cards that would normally be recyclable have to go in the trash if they're embellished with glitter or a metallic finish.

The problem is that recycling systems aren't designed to deal with all that extra glitz - and if even a piece or two gets mixed in with the regular recycling, it can end up sending an entire load to the landfill - especially since China has imposed new restrictions on the recycling it is willing to accept from the United States.

Still not sure about what can and can't go in the bin? Check out King County's website for detailed information.

One thing that can be recycled is a natural - or 'real' - Christmas tree.

When you're ready to say goodbye (sometime before January 31st), Seattle residents can simply take off all the decorations and haul smaller trees to the curb on trash day for composting.

If your tree is taller than four feet, you will have to cut it into smaller lengths before putting it on the curb.  The same goes for natural garlands, wreaths, and other greenery.

Any King County resident can drop off a tree as yard waste ($12 fee) at certain facilities. You can find more details here.

In Pierce County, your tree will have to be small enough to fit into your curbside yard waste cart.  You can also find a handy breakdown of what can and cannot be recycled here.

In Snohomish County, you can drop off a Christmas tree just like yard waste at a recycling and transfer station or drop box.  You can find the list of those locations here.

When you're finished with holiday lights, if one or two strings are just too old or damaged to put in storage for another year, donate them! You can drop them off for recycling at McLendon Hardware stores, or click here for mail-in programs.

Bells, baubles, tinsel, and streamers will all have to go in storage or in the trash after you're finished with them.  If they are left on the tree or wreath, the whole thing will have to be thrown out.

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