7 Bulletproof Ways to Cut Down on Gift Giving Waste Year-Round

Throughout the year you may notice extra bags of garbage going from your home to the garbage can due to holidays, birthdays, graduation parties and other special occasions. Luckily, there are ways to prevent these annual celebrations from being garbage generators. You just need the right strategies and some easy-to-implement ideas to help you reduce year-round waste. To get you started, we’ve compiled seven bulletproof ways to cut down on gift giving waste immediately.


1. Invest in Reusable Containers

No matter how well you plan, there always seem to be leftovers at a dinner gathering. While it can be tempting to bag up these extra morsels with disposable freezer bags or inexpensive plastic containers, these options aren’t just bad for the environment, but also can’t be reused. Once you eat the leftovers, many of those containers end up in the trash, and plastic takes more than a thousand years to decompose in landfills.

To avoid this practically forever decomposition, set yourself up for success before the holidays by investing in reusable containers for leftovers. Glass dishes with lids or even sturdy Tupperware containers work well. Although the latter is made of plastic, it lasts for years and can ultimately result in less plastic going to waste.

2. Skip the Wrapping Paper

If you want to avoid throwing away bags and bags of wrapping paper, upcycle your recyclables by looking for alternative wrapping solutions. There are festive canvas bags you can use year after year, or you can recycle existing paper such as newspaper or office printouts. Add a bit of paint if you want to create a unique occasion or appropriate theme.

3. Go Digital

Instead of adding more paper and additional waste to the already waste consuming world, turn to digital alternatives. For example, rather than printing a card, send a thoughtful email. Similarly, instead of buying video games with a disc and a clunky plastic case, opt for digital downloads. Virtual gifts and greetings are a great way to send a special message to the people you love without generating waste.

4. Invest in Durable Gifts

Many kid toys are destined for the landfill from the moment the child opens the box. To minimize this type of waste, consider finding high quality wooded toys instead of plastic toys that are easily breakable. Similarly, when shopping for adults try to prioritize durability over convenience.

5. Buy Recyclable Batteries

Batteries compose a shocking 20 percent of all the household hazardous waste in landfills. Batteries are one of the many items that don’t belong in the container and can be especially dangerous due to the potential to leak battery acids into the earth. Luckily, you can minimize this threat with a multi-pronged approach. When possible, try to avoid giving gifts that have batteries. If that is not possible, opt for items with rechargeable batteries. Finally, consider buying a battery recharger so that you can recharge batteries and use them multiple times.

6. Recycle Holiday and Party Decorations

Of course, batteries aren’t the only thing you can recycle. After the holiday season, consider recycling holiday decorations as well as other remnants of the celebration. In particular, you can recycle holiday lights, Christmas trees, wrapping paper, banners and even wine corks.

7. Donate When Purging

After a holiday or special occasion, many people like to clean out their house and purge unwanted possessions to make room for new gifts. If this is a tradition in your home, make sure you don’t just throw away the items you no longer want. There is a lot of truth to the statement, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and that old lamp, ridiculous T-shirt or neon sign may be exactly what someone else is craving.

Rather than filling up garbage bags of junk and tossing them in your garbage can, set things in good condition aside to donate. You may be surprised of items you can actually recycle, and there are also charities and thrift shops willing to take old items. In some cases, you can even arrange a pick up, and if there are no charity shops in your area, you may be able to throw your unwanted items into a box and mail them to a charity.

For more ideas on how to cut down on waste, give us a call at 773.685.8811 and you will speak with one of our friendly and knowledgable Customer Service Representatives.

Lakeshore Expands System-wide Service Areas with K. Hoving Companies Acquisition

Lakeshore is very excited to announce the newest addition to our state-of-the-art facilities, West Chicago MRF, which is based on our recent acquisition of K. Hoving Companies. This new Lakeshore Material Recovery Facility, is a full-service MRF for waste, recycling and C&D material. Having built a strong reputation in DuPage County and throughout greater Chicagoland, K. Hoving is the only recycling facility in Chicago that is nationally certified by the Recycling Certification Institute. Lakeshore now operates seven MRFs throughout the Midwest, increasing annual revenues to nearly $170 million and workforce to over 720 full-time employees.

West Chicago MRF

The West Chicago Impact

Together, Lakeshore and K. Hoving are bigger, stronger and better positioned to provide innovative solutions that improve the quality of our customers’ experience. From a deep-rooted mission statement to lead the market in providing innovative and environmentally responsible waste and recycling solutions, we are committed to environmental excellence and customer satisfaction. Our commitment goes beyond waste collection, from the state-of-the-art facilities throughout Chicagoland to the unique services offered to both homeowners and business alike.

K Hoving’s business model complements the Lakeshore brand as it does not own a landfill and developed an environmentally friendly recycling and waste diversion process. K. Hoving is a company of service and reliability, greatly valuing the best interest of both the customers and the environment. These favorable traits will propel Lakeshore forward as we expand and strengthen service and facility operations.

System-wide Service Area Expansion

As a result of the acquisition, Lakeshore’s system-wide services have expanded to include portable restrooms, street sweeping, on-site storage and mulch as part of a new Temporary Services Division. West Chicago is also structured to strengthen Lakeshore’s reliable roll-off container service. We are excited to continue these services as we promise to deliver exceptional customer service in all facets of our business.

Portable Toilets
As the second largest portable toilet business in Illinois, Lakeshore provides sanitary restrooms for any occasion, from large events, to weddings, to construction job sites. We offer a variety of portable restroom options such as Standard Units, ADA Compliant Units, Deluxe Units and Executive Model Units.

Street Sweeping
Lakeshore offers complete street sweeping services that prevent the spread of dangerous contaminants into sewer systems and local bodies of water to clean up any city or job site, large or small. Equipped with blowing machines and vacuums, Lakeshore’s sweeper trucks will safely remove any contaminant including the hard-to-reach areas.

Storage On-site
Lakeshore’s on-site storage offers our customers a safe and secure way to store tools, equipment, overstock and general storage needs on-site. Our storage containers are made of thick steel and have large locking double doors for maximum security.

Lakeshore takes the wood we recycle to reuse it as an eco-friendly mulch product. Every piece of our mulch is made from 100% recycled wood that were previously materials from buildings and fences. We offer an array of mulch options such as Premium Red Mulch, Premium Brown Much, Double Ground Natural Much and Economy Brown Mulch.

Roll-off Containers
Controlling nearly 20% of the roll-off market, Lakeshore offers a full range of containers with dedicated 24-hour service. Our extensive, nearly 20 year roll-off and commercial waste experience will only be enhanced with the addition of West Chicago.

Our company is extremely proud of the way we come together in the community to strengthen operations and protect the environment. The addition of West Chicago MRF is just another step in the right direction to enhance recycling and waste diversion not just across Chicagoland, but throughout the Midwest. We proudly welcome all K. Hoving Companies’ customers, 100 employees and community to our Lakeshore family.

Click HERE for more West Chicago facility information.

Lakeshore Recycling Systems Acquires Chicago-area Recycler

Two Big Deals Could Reshape the Illinois Hauler Market

Lakeshore Recycling Systems Acquires K. Hoving Companies Expanding Geographic, Operations and Service Footprint in Greater Chicago

Lakeshore Recycling Systems Recognized as one of the Nation’s 2016 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®

11 Surprising Items You Can Recycle


You try hard to recycle everything you can, but your curbside recycling program only takes certain types of items. What about all the other recyclable items in your house that your city’s recycling company just won’t take?

Luckily for you, many recycling organizations take specialized items—and if you do a little research, you may even be surprised at the diverse, unique items your local center may take.

Here are 11 items that may surprise you.

1. Holiday Lights

Do you have some burnt-out strings of holiday lights? Send them to a company that recycles them. The lights are shredded, and the copper, PVC and glass are separated. The raw materials then are taken to another facility and fashioned into new products.

2. Mattresses

Recycling factories that take mattresses have special saws that break down mattresses and box springs into materials such as metal, wood, cloth and foam. The wood is chipped, and the foam and cloth are shredded before being recycled into wallpaper or clothing.

3. CDs and DVDs

Since so many of your favorite movies, TV shows and albums are available for streaming, you may have a lot of old CDs and DVDs that are no longer used. Since they’re made of polycarbonate, these discs don’t decompose in a landfill. Send CDs to a recycling center instead, and they’ll be ground down to powder. That powder is then melted into new plastic that is used in vehicles, buildings and even pavement.

4. Athletic Shoes

Certain shoe companies, like Nike, will take back your old sneakers. The company’s recycling facility breaks down the shoes into rubber, fabric and foam. The rubber is perfect for track and field sports tracks, and the fabric can be used for padding in basketball courts. Similarly, the foam can be made into cushioning for tennis courts.

5. Gift Cards

Gift cards, hotel key cards and credit cards are all made of PVC. Various recycling centers accept these cards and melt them down into new, uniform sheets of PVC. Those sheets can then be cut into new gift cards, credit cards or other PVC products.

6. Wine Corks

It’s true that wine corks are biodegradable and that there are fun DIY projects you can use them for. However, Americans still consume enough wine on a yearly basis that many corks go to waste and end up in landfills. Some companies, like Terracycle, let you mail them wine corks for recycling. These recycled corks can then be used to make tile for floors or to make items like sandals.

7. Pantyhose

The majority of pantyhose are made of nylon, which takes 40 years to break down in a landfill. Instead of tossing your torn tights in the trash, mail them to a recycling center. The nylon can be remade into park benches, carpet and playground equipment.

8. Crayons

The National Crayon Recycling Program collects old crayons and melts them down. The wax is then reshaped and resold as a new box of crayons.

9. Electronics

You may be surprised by just how many recycling centers accept electronics. MP3 players, cell phones and computers all have recyclable components. Most electronic devices contain some hazardous waste that must be dealt with properly. If you take your electronic device to a recycling center, the team there will safely dispose of the hazardous components and recycle the safe components into parts for new smartphones or other devices.

10. Packing Peanuts

We all know packing peanuts are a pain. The Styrofoam clings to everything and never breaks down well in a landfill. Luckily, packing peanuts can also be reused for packages again and again. Many shipping companies will take back your old packing peanuts and use them for another package.

11. Plastic Bags

Most major supermarkets have recycling bins for the plastic bags you accumulate at the grocery store.  Depending on the store, you can drop off sandwich bags, dry-cleaning bags and bread bags.

Interested in recycling unique items such as these? Ask your local recycling company today about the unique items they accept.

Think Before You Trash: 4 Items That Don’t Belong in Your Container


When you clean house, your trash Container seems like the ultimate solution for all your clutter. Old magazines? Toss them. Receipts from three years ago? Throw them in, too. Used hygiene products? Toss those, along with fabric scraps, broken utensils and dried-up ball-point pens.

And though your trash container easily holds old, broken and unwanted items, keep in mind all garbage ultimately has to go somewhere: the nearest landfill.

While your local waste and recycling service provider can accommodate most of what gets thrown away, some items can have a negative impact on the environment if disposed of incorrectly. The following items, in particular, require separate disposal to ensure they don’t harm plants, animals and the community.

1. Batteries

Before much research was conducted on the negative environmental effects mercury causes, batteries contained this substance. If batteries were disposed at the landfill, they would leak mercury (highly poisonous) into the ground.

As research and technology progressed, modern alkaline batteries were created to no longer use mercury during production, so you can safely dispose of them with the rest of your garbage. However, rechargeable batteries and car batteries both still contain additional environmentally harmful chemicals (such as nickel cadmium) that seep into the soil and water.

Rather than throwing rechargeable batteries away, take them to a collection site to be properly disposed of.

2. Electronics

With today’s whirlwind advances in technology, your phone, tablet, laptop and computer are likely to become outdated within a year. If you like to stay updated with the latest tech, you may have more than a few used electronics around your house. And even if you prefer to hold onto your electronics for as long as possible, the average smartphone is not likely to last beyond five years.

But like batteries, most electronics contain toxic chemicals (such as cadmium, lead and arsenic) that could easily disperse into the ground and water, damaging our environment. Furthermore, starting in 2003, Illinois (and 27 other states) passed e-waste recycling laws forbidding the disposal of electronics in local landfills.

If you need to throw away your old flat screen TV, cracked iPad or anything else electronic that you may have, schedule an e-waste pickup with your local recycling collection provider.

3. Oil-Based Paints

If you are a hobbyist or a professional painter, you can safely dispose of your water color, acrylic and latex-based paints with the rest of your garbage, so long as you allow the paint to dry fully first. These paints are non-toxic and will not cause lasting damage.

However, if you frequently work with oil-based paints, treat them as hazardous waste. Although you won’t find lead in today’s paint, you may find other potentially poisonous hydrocarbons that pollute the air and cause respiratory difficulty.

To properly dispose of oil-based paints, bring them to a state-sponsored household hazardous waste collection event or contact your nearest household hazardous waste facility.

4. Smoke Detectors

Many homes rely on one or two types of smoke detectors: photoelectric detectors and ionization detectors.

Photoelectric smoke detectors send out low-power lasers to a photodetector. If smoke blocks that beam, the detector senses a lack of light and triggers the alarm. These smoke devices are completely safe to toss with your regular trash.

In contrast, ionization detectors have an ionization chamber that holds two plates and an ionizing radiation source. The radiation source emits alpha particles at a consistent rate, and when smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ionized particles and triggers the alarm.

Due to the radiation source in ionization detectors, you should not throw your old or broken smoke detector in the trash. Although the radioactive material is present in safe, small amounts, the radiation has a half-life of hundreds of years. If thousands of households dispose of their smoke detectors at local landfills, the combined radiation would prove dangerous to the environment.

Many recycling centers lack the means to dispose of radioactive material, so your best disposal option is to contact the manufacturer of the product. If your manufacturer does not accept your smoke detector, email the Office of Sustainability at sustainability@usps.gov.

When in Doubt, Call Your Local Waste Facility

With a little extra care and research, you can free up space at your local landfill and do your part to protect the environment. If you don’t know whether you should throw away an item, don’t hesitate to call your local waste and recycling facility and ask for clarification.

Recognized With BBB’s 2017 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics

On behalf of the over 600 dedicated men and woman who stand under the Lakeshore banner, Lakeshore is incredibly honored to be recognized with the Better Business Bureau’s 2017 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics Honorable Mention.

lrs_torch_award“The Torch Award is the premier award the BBB can present to a company,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Torch Award winners and honorable mentions demonstrate the highest ethical standards and trust with customers, business partners, shareholders and the communities in which they do business.”

Lakeshore is the only waste and recycling company in Chicago and Northern Illinois to ever win recognition in this category. LRS has held accreditation and an A+ ranking with BBB since early 2015.

To be considered, LRS submitted ethical examples in current practice, spotlighting the company’s values, executive leadership commitment, internal and external communications, management best practices, human resources and community involvement.

This recognition follows our commitment for innovation, integrity and excellence in all facets of our business. We firmly believe in going above and beyond the norm and setting new standards in the solid waste and recycling industry.

Lakeshore’s sustainable business model is driven by a “Recycle First” focus; no other waste hauler in the Midwest maximizes recycling for profit the way that we do. We do not own a landfill and instead focus on increased recycling and waste diversion. This model has been the catalyst to providing exceptional customer service and a platform to strengthening relationships with our customers and the community.

“We thank the Better Business Bureau for this esteemed honor, which comes at a time of continuing marketplace expansion and a longstanding adherence to maintaining the highest ethical standards and values. We are grateful and accept this award on behalf of our employees, customers and communities we serve,” said LRS Chief Executive Officer Alan T. Handley.

LRS Recognized With Better Business Bureau’s 2017 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics