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The gifts are opened and the stockings unstuffed. Now what?
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That pile of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents under your tree has quickly turned into a pile of boxes and ripped paper.

But instead of filling garbage bags with cardboard, why not take a few minutes and recycle those boxes?

Rick Foote, Hall County’s natural resources coordinator, said during the holiday period the county’s recycling center sees an increase in corrugated cardboard.

“Corrugated cardboard is the three-layer stuff,” he said. “Like if you get a UPS box delivered to you, or like the boxes that come with a TV or electronics. We see it go up remarkably during the holiday period — actually, before and after.”

Corrugated cardboard is easily recyclable, Foote added.

“We take it (corrugated cardboard) at all of the compactor sites — all 13 of them — and we also take them here at the (Hall County) Recycling Center on Chestnut Street,” Foote said. “So that is 14 locations throughout the county. I want to encourage folks to take advantage of those opportunities.

“The other thing is that corrugated (cardboard) is highly bulky, so if you were to try and crunch it up in a trash bag it’s going to take up a lot of room in the trash bag. So if they just flatten them and put them in the trunk of their car and bring them to us, it is probably a better option.”

Single layer cardboard, like a shoe box, can also be recycled.

 “Cracker boxes, cereal boxes (and) shoe boxes is a paper grade known as box board ... that’s recyclable if folks bring it to us at the Recycling Center on Chestnut Street,” Foote said.

Tim Thompson, who’s Tips, Tools and Tricks column runs in Sunday’s Life section, has a few tips on what to do with all those Christmas boxes, too.

“For the bigger boxes, you could use a box sharing program,” he said. “U-haul has something called the U-haul Box Exchange. It’s kind of a way to conserve boxes.”

A message board at allows people to trade, sell or buy reusable boxes and moving supplies. Thompson also suggested parents should check out, which is a parenting Web site that features children’s crafts.

“If you go under crafts, or type in ‘reuse boxes,’ and they have a bunch of crafts that you can do,” he said.

“One of them is you can take a box and turn it into a weenie roaster with Reynolds Wrap. It is off-the-wall, but if you are trying to do crafts with your kids, it could be fun.”

He suggested recycling can also be a group effort.

“If you are having a Christmas party where people are opening up gifts, or a family thing, you could have a recycle bag where you have everything you want to be recycled goes in that.”

Most boxes can be recycled, but Foote advised to stay away from wrapping paper.

“Some wrapping paper is actually metallic and that would not be recyclable,” he said. “Some wrapping papers may be recyclable, but it’s usually best to try not to focus on that ... it probably has a lot of tape and there may be ribbon attached to it.”

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