When the big day aka Christmas (or if you celebrate Hanukkah, eight days) comes and goes, we’re left with dried up pine needles, small mountains of wrapping paper, dimmed lights, and passé holiday cards all too quickly. What’s one to do with the treasured Christmas decor that’s now obsolete? Reuse and recycle it, of course! Here are our ideas that make recycling and reusing oh-so-fun and simple.

Green Your Christmas Tree, Wreaths & Garland (Of the Real Variety)
Show your greens the true meaning of the word by recycling your real tree, wreath and garland. Avoid throwing this festive decor in the trash, because there are so many ways it can be reincarnated. First, be sure to strip the greenery of all its ornaments, lights and additional decorations. If you have the outdoor space, consider replanting your tree after Christmas. This requires some planning ahead, as you’ll need to source a tree that has its roots in tact with a ball of earth contained in burlap. If you’re treecycling your fir, check with your local boy scout troops, as many provide tree recycling services for a nominal fee wherein you may schedule a time for them to pick-up your tree, or you can drop it off at a specified time and location at which the troop is accepting trees for recycling. Many municipal recycling services also offer Christmas tree recycling, so call your specific company for dates/times and details for getting your Tannenbaum picked-up and recycled. If you have the resources, you can also chop up your Christmas tree so it fits into your yard waste container, or chip it and use it as wood chip mulch. Many cities also set up drop-off locations where you can recycle your tree. Check your respective city government’s website for options.

Keep Spreading The Good Cheer Of Those Holiday Greeting Cards
The paper and resources required to send holiday greeting cards really stacks up when you factor in every single household that sends and receives good tidings in the mail. Lessen the impact on the earth by reusing your cards, which are always way too beautiful to simply toss or recycle. St. Jude’s Ranch has a wonderful recycled card program in which they except used greeting cards to recycle them into new holiday greetings. The children at St. Jude’s Ranch create the new cards, and they are paid for their work. If you’d prefer to get crafty with your cards, grab a pair of scissors and recycle them into next year’s gift tags. Or make some festive, meaningful decor by using your cards to create a holiday card garland.

 

Bulb Ornaments Aren’t Just For Trees
Year after year, ornament collections can really pile up. Colorful bulb ornaments especially seem to multiply of their own accord. And when they lose their string or their tiny tops, it’s all too easy to want to just discard them. If you have spares or outcast ornaments, don’t toss them — upcycle them! Fasten one or two ornaments atop a gift as a lovely finishing touch, or fashion them into this gorgeous wreath which simply requires sliding them onto a wire hangar!

Or grab a handful of castoff bulb ornaments and make this sweet and cheerful faux paper mache garland that will provide a delightful rainbow of ambiance in any space.

Bright Ideas For Christmas Light
When you take down your Christmas lights this year, keep an inventory of which ones are in good working order, and which have lost their ability to shine. Then put the non-working strings of lights in a bag to be taken to The Home Depot at the very beginning of next holiday season. The Home Depot offers a service where you can trade-in and recycle your incandescent lights and then save money buying brand new, energy-efficient LED lights. This year, their program started on November 1st, so this too requires some planning ahead. LED lights last an average of 20 years and they will save you a boatload of money on your electricity bill. Note that The Home Depot will also accept incandescent lights that are in working order and credit you so you can save money making the switch to LED lights. Or, if you have some really old school, retro lights in your collection, consider creating a holiday light wreath as an homage to yesteryear.

That’s Not A Wrap: Giving Gift Wrap A Second Life
According to Earth911.com, “wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the US.” Before everyone tears into their gifts, have a bag ready to catch all of the discarded wrapping paper so you can then easily place it in your recycling bin. Metallic gift wrap is not readily recyclable, so avoid buying this type of paper. You can also hold a “contest” to see who in your family can spare the most gift wrap from ripping so it may be rolled up and reused in the future. The winner gets a special (unwrapped!) gift. And don’t scrap the scraps of paper that do get torn. They can be upcycled into gorgeous paper bows. Plan ahead next year and wrap your gifts in items that can be reused, such as scarves –thereby eliminating the need to recycle the paper at all.

What are your favorite ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle over the holidays?

Written by: Beth Shea