The holidays are the perfect opportunity to treat your loved ones and spoil them with gifts. While gifts may be the main thing on your mind at this time of the year, it is also a good time to treat the planet with kindness too.
During the holidays, household trash increases dramatically with all of the gifting and additional food. It has been estimated by the EPA that households throw out an additional 25% of trash between Thanksgiving and New Year, which is very damaging for the environment.
It is possible to have a good holiday season without negatively impacting the environment. We are going to share some of the best recycling tips to make this the best holiday season yet.
Recycling Wrapping Paper
Based on your location, there may be schemes in place for recycling wrapping paper. It is possible to recycle almost all kinds of wrapping paper, depending on what it is made of.
If the wrapping paper is metallic or has glitter on it, then it cannot be recycled, but most other types can.
How To Recycle Wrapping Paper
- Check with your local recycling facility to see whether they accept wrapping paper, as well as the limitations on this
- Prevent metallic or glitter wrapping paper from going into the recycling as it cannot be made into new paper
- Tissue paper cannot be recycled as the fibers are too thin, so keep this out of the recycling too. It can be composted instead
Alternatives To Wrapping Paper
As it can be difficult to recycle traditional wrapping paper, you could make some changes this year to be more environmentally friendly.
Instead of wrapping paper, you can use:
- Reusable wrapping paper, like Lilywrap
- Magazine or newspaper pages
- Paper shopping bags
- Old pillowcases or clothing
Recycling Christmas Ornaments
Unfortunately, most Christmas ornaments cannot be recycled as they are usually made from mixed materials. Mixed materials are difficult to recycle as they cannot be easily separated.
Ornaments that are made from a single material, such as wooden ornaments or glass baubles, cannot be recycled with your household waste. This is because they are usually treated with chemicals that will contaminate all other waste in recycling.
The only exception to this rule is paper ornaments, as these can be easily recycled.
How To Recycle Christmas Ornaments
- Do not throw Christmas ornaments into the recycling bin with other waste as they can contaminate the trash
- Homemade paper ornaments can be recycled as long as they have not been treated with glitter. If you can remove non-paper items, like beads, this should be done before they can be recycled
- The best option for Christmas ornaments is to reuse what you can
How To Reuse Christmas Ornaments
- Broken glass bulbs can be reused as mosaic pieces in craft projects
- Donate ornaments that are in good condition to local thrift stores or local charities
- Ornaments can also be donated to local shelters or care homes to be reused
- You can also sell ornaments which are in good condition during the holidays – this works best for big-ticket items
Recycling Christmas Lights
Decorating your home for the holidays would not be complete without twinkling lights, and luckily there are plenty of options for recycling these.
Christmas lights should not be put into your curbside recycling trash can, but they can be recycled elsewhere, whether this is by being dropped off or sent via mail to recycling centers.
How To Recycle Christmas Lights
- Check out your local homeware stores, like Home Depot or Lowes, as many will offer recycling programs for Christmas lights
- Check out local scrap metal collectors, as many companies will take Christmas lights so they can remove the valuable copper to sell and recycle the rest
- Mail old Christmas lights to recycling programs such as HolidayLEDs or Christmas Light Source
These recycling programs can be accessed all year round and, in many cases, will offer a discount which can be used for new lights or decorations.
Recycling Greeting Cards
The holidays are a time for getting in touch with loved ones, and usually, this is done through greeting cards. It can be easy to recycle greeting cards if they are made solely of paper or cardstock as they can be thrown into your curbside recycling bin with other waste.
Cards that contain non-paper elements take a little more effort to recycle.
How To Recycle Greeting Cards
- Cards covered in glitter or foil cannot be recycled so will need to be thrown in the trash with other household waste
- You can remove the sections of the cards that are covered in glitter or foil so the rest can be recycled
- Ribbon, metal, or other charms need to be removed from the cards before they can be recycled
- If you have cards that play music, the electrical elements need to be removed before they can be recycled. These electrical elements can be recycled if your city has an e-waste program
- Paper envelopes can be recycled along with the cards
Recycling Artificial Christmas Trees
In most locations, artificial trees cannot be left on the curbside for recycling. However, it is possible to keep your old tree away from landfills with a little effort.
There are other programs available for recycling artificial Christmas trees in most locations, as well as ways to reuse old trees, even if they are worse-for-wear, with some creativity.
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