The first few days after Christmas, cars stuffed with recyclables made their way to the Anchorage Recycling Center in midtown.

The sound of glass bottles and tin cans going into recycling bins — instead of the landfill— was music to Mary Gilbert’s ears.

“It’s just what you do. It’s the responsible thing to do for our planet and the environment,” she said.

Gilbert makes weekly trips to the center on 6161 Rosewood Street; she even has her own mini recycling center at home to make the process easier.

“I have grandchildren I want to live in an environment that’s clean and where we reuse things,” Gilbert said.

She’s not the only one thinking about future generations. Mary Fisher, the executive director for ALPAR—Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling—says people in Anchorage are becoming more environmentally conscious.

Fisher said last year the Anchorage Recycling center took in 50 million pounds of recyclables and almost half of that was cardboard.

“We think cardboard boxes is one of the most important things you can recycle because it’s probably the highest volume we get here at the Anchorage Recycling Center,” Fisher said.

This year, Center Recycling Services is encouraging people to think about their holiday accessories too. There are several bins set up around town to recycle broken Christmas lights.

“They’re wire, basically and recycling wire is something that’s done year round,” said environmental engineer Donna Mears. “The emphasis on holiday lights is because it’s on everyone’s mind right now.”

If you got a new phone for the holidays, Total Reclaim off Huffman wants your old one and the charger that goes with it.

Just this week, the business has collected about 600 laptops and hundreds of computer monitors and old TVs, all filled with dangerous chemicals staff want to prevent from ending up in the landfill.

“Cadmium and chromium; it’s all carcinogenic,” office manager Gary Smith explained. “That battery, it’s a lithium battery now that creates a combustion hazard.”

Total Reclaim recycled 2.1 million pounds of electronics in 2016; that’s the weight of about 80 school buses. Smith said basically anything that takes a battery or can be plugged in can be recycled.

“It’s the old adage: You can pay for it now or you can pay for it later. That’s the biggest thing. Paying for it later that’s our future generations, that’s who we want to protect. That’s who Total Reclaim wants to protect,” Smith said.

ALPAR is also working with Boy Scout Troop 268 to recycle Christmas trees. Live trees—no wreaths—can be dropped off for free at Carrs store parking lots in Anchorage, Eagle River and Palmer. For a small fee the Boy Scouts will come pick up your tree at your house.

KTVA 11’s Heather Hintze can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter

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