Between the big family dinners, decorations, gift wrapping and gift unwrapping, the holidays can certainly generate a big mess when the parties are all said and done. You may find yourself surrounded by wrapping paper, casserole dishes, and tinsel wondering what you can do with it all. Fortunately, much of the waste that you generate during the holiday season can be recycled, and what can’t be recycled can be reduced. With this nifty guide on post-holiday trash and recycling, you can have a very eco-friendly Christmas and less clean-up for the end of the year.
If you have a big family or plenty of friends over to open presents, wrapping paper may be one of the first concerns. The good news is traditional wrapping paper can be recycled easily. However, don’t toss all wrapping paper into the recycling bin indiscriminately. If you opt for fancy, decorative wrapping paper with foil or metal, that will need to go in the trash.
You can also consider reusable gift wrapping, such as gift bags with tissue paper that can be saved for future gifts. If your gift bows are still in good shape, save them for next year. Saving cardboard boxes to hide the nature of the gift and reusing them next year is another way to cut down on your gift wrapping waste.
If your holiday decorations are in good shape, simply store them and use them again next year. However, you may find that after the holidays some of your lights no longer work, or you may have ornaments that break during the season. Many home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes will accept string lights that have past their use. Broken glass, foil, or plastic ornaments should be thrown away, and should be wrapped carefully before being dropped in the trash.
Christmas trees can be trickier. If you buy an artificial tree or do something creative, like making a tree out of books, you can simply deconstruct it after Christmas and reuse it. If you have a real tree, your trash and recycling service will probably have a pick-up time a couple weeks after the holidays to collect trees and use them for mulch.
If you can cook in reusable dishes for the big dinner, that’s the most eco-friendly option. If you have a big dinner party, you’ll have plenty of dishes, but you may also be able to enlist help from friends and family to finish cleaning them faster. Any aluminium baking dishes will need to be thrown out, although you may be able to get at least a couple uses out of them if you wash them. Eat as many leftovers as you can so as to cut down on food waste, and consider composting food scraps.
Most trash and recycling services have a set schedule for pick-up during the holidays. Make sure that you check social media or contact your trash and recycling service so you know when to expect pick-up as well as special pick-ups such as Christmas tree pick-up.