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Online shopping yields glut of cardboard at home

Tuesday, March 28, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

Stack of empty shipping boxesAs more Americans shop online, mounds of cardboard boxes are piling up in our homes.

We're one of those households. As an Amazon Prime customer, for $100 per year, Prime membership allows me to shop online and pay zero shipping fees. Pretty convenient.

That can be a hassle, though, once your recycling bin fills up, or if your community offers no curbside recycling. So what's the best way to dispose of cardboard?

I'll begin with what not to do with cardboard. Don't stack it near open flames or heat sources. That's a fire hazard.

Don't burn cardboard in your fireplace. Sure, it's flammable. But cardboard is permeated with toxic chemicals that you don't want released in your home. Those toxins also can damage woodburning appliances.

(You don't want to burn plywood, particle board, or painted/treated wood for the same reason.)

Fold cardboard and flatten it, or cut it into smaller sizes, and stuff it in your recycling bin. If you have too much to fit, tie twine around excess bundles and leave them next to your curbside bin -- most municipalities will take your overload.

If you don't have curbside recycling, you likely can take cardboard (and other recyclables) to a transfer station and drop it off for free. Cle Elum, for example, has a transfer station that charges to dump garbage and waste inside the complex. But on the perimeter, before you reach the pay station, there are huge dumpsters for dropping off cardboard, aluminum cans, glass, and other recyclables at no charge.

I've heard people quibble over pizza boxes – recyclable, or not?

curbside garbage, recycling binsThe City of Seattle says no, with a qualifier. Pizza usually stains cardboard with grease, which doesn't break down in the recycling process. So don't put greasy or cheesy boxes in your paper bin. But if the box is somehow unstained, go ahead and recycle it.

However, even greasy pizza boxes are compostable, so you can put them in your bin for lawn clippings and yard waste.

Bonus tip: Do you sometimes shred so much paper that it nearly fills your recycling bin? There's another option. Generally, curbside recyclers allow you to dump shredded paper in your compost bin.

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