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Holiday overload
New gadgets leave old ones to be tossed, but they could be recycled
Chances are some of those new holiday gifts will be replacing older model electronics. Instead of letting them collect dust, "Do Your Part" and recycle or donate them. Same goes for packaging and Christmas decorations.

Where can it go?

General recycling: Hall County Recycling Center, 1008 Chestnut St. SE, Gainesville, 770-535-8284

Christmas tree recycling: Keep Hall Beautiful, 332 Washington St., Suite 108, Gainesville, 770-531-1102

Mail Christmas cards to: St. Jude's Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, NV 89005, 877-977-7572

New Year's is known for many things: greens, black-eyed peas and resolutions.

While losing weight and getting fit are at the top of many lists, there is one thing that could help both you and the environment: going green.

When taking down decorations and throwing away the stuff Christmas presents replaced, keep in mind that many often-trashed items could be recycled.

"So many of our natural resources are being used for virgin material when we could be recycling what we already have," said Cindy Reed, the executive director of Keep Hall Beautiful. "Recycling saves resources, energy, fuel and money."

Keep Hall Beautiful is an organization designed to educate people on environmental stewardship.

"We truly need to concentrate on the three R's: Reduce the amount of packaging we actually use by buying in bulk, buying fresh and taking cloth bags to stores. Reuse things such as coffee cans for storage containers and refill bottles for soap. Recycle whatever is left," Reed said.

There are many recyclable Christmas decorations most disregard. Instead of taking your live decorations to the dump, consider salvaging them.

"Christmas trees taken to Hall County compactor sites get turned into mulch, which is available free to the public at the Hall County Recycling Facility on Chestnut Street," Reed said.

Christmas cards are another item that cannot only be recycled, but reused in a beneficial way.

"Over 30 years ago, wishing to show our donors appreciation for making St. Jude's Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year's Christmas cards into ‘new' cards for the coming season," said Sarah Sheehan, the director of communications and events at St. Jude's Ranch for Children.

Christmas cards - and cards of any kind - can be sent to St. Jude's Ranch Recycled Card Program, where the cards will be put to good use.

"The recipients were so delighted with their unique ‘thank you,' they requested the children sell them the special cards," Sheehan said. "And so, the St. Jude's Ranch Recycled Card Program was born."

The program is operated by Kids, Corp., a program for the children at St. Jude's Ranch where they learn entrepreneurship skills.

"The children participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The result is a beautiful new card made by the children and volunteers," Sheehan said.

Not only does this teach life-applicable skills to the children of the ranch, it also emphasizes the importance of reusing items.

"The benefits are two-fold: customers receive green holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of going green," Sheehan said.

Recycling cards is easy - if all else fails, they can go in a blue paper bin. However, recycling electronics is another story. If a new MP3 player or cell phone filled your stocking, don't just throw away old ones.

"Electronics can have hazardous materials in them, which should not go into a landfill," Reed said. "Electronics also have valuable materials which can be removed and recycled. All electronics except televisions can be taken to the Hall County Recycling Facility."

Televisions can be taken to Best Buy to be recycled. They charge a fee of $10, but residents get a Best Buy gift card in exchange.

Used cooking oil, like the kind from turkey fryers, can also be taken to the Hall County Recycling Facility.

"Keep Hall Beautiful also hosts two recycling events a year. Our next one is on April 16 in Oakwood," she said.

When sorting, all paper wrapping should be separated from bows and ribbon and can be put in with mixed paper to be recycled. Cardboard boxes should be flattened and recycled in order to save trees and landfill space.

"Sometimes things are not able to be recycled. The reasons could be lack of market, contamination of materials or transportation issues," Reed said. "By being educated about what can and cannot be recycled, you will be better informed when making buying decisions about what is best for the environment."

While reducing the amount of trash helps the environment, it can also save you money.

"Two of the most popular resolutions are to get healthier and be more financially responsible. Going green can help with both of these goals," Reed said. "Buying fresh fruits and vegetables will have you saving packaging and eating healthier at the same time."

You can also help the environment and your waistline by volunteering at a community cleanup event, where walking for exercise turns into doing something good for your community.

"Make a goal of reducing the amount of trash you have each week. You will be surprised at how much money you can save," she said. "For instance, replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescents will save money and energy over time, helping the environment and your budget."