Recycle Christmas

How To Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle Those Old Holiday Decorations

Since the holidays are over, it’s time for the part of year that everyone dreads: the clean up. Cleaning up and throwing away all the remainders of the holidays can be downright depressing. What was one day the most wonderful time of the year is now just another winter day. However, with a new year approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to modify your life and make some resolutions to make yourself an overall happier and healthier person to cope with this melancholy transition. 

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to be healthier and exercise more. As of the past few years, many people have applied that same logic to the planet. Maybe not the exercise part, but living a healthier and greener life. Our planet continues to deteriorate at an exponential rate due to climate change. There are plenty of things we all can be doing to reduce our carbon footprint every day, but since Christmas is officially over, why not get a head start now? 

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When cleaning up after the holidays, most people don’t realize the amount of recyclable items they actually throw out every year when they’re doing their cleaning sweeps. It makes sense, the mess can be overwhelming, why not just throw everything into one big garbage bag and call it a day? Well, if you really want to dedicate yourself to your resolution and avoid being a part of the 92% of people who don’t stick to their New Year’s goals, than recycle that wrapping paper!

There is so much plastic wrap, tissue/wrapping paper, cardboard, lights, etc. that gets wasted and thrown into landfills every year after the holidays but the reality is all of those items and more are completely recyclable! Lowe’s home furnishings actually has a specialized recycling section for Christmas lights that no longer work after the holidays. You simply drop off the lights and they recycle them! In addition, if you know you have a local recycling plant that has a specialized area for metals, they’ll most likely also accept the lights. While the bulbs are made of glass and the wire casings are made of plastic, the interior wiring classifies them as a metal item in terms of recycling. 

Try to be conscious when opening wrapped gifts and boxes with tissue paper interiors. All of those items can be reused for next Christmas; even if your wrapping paper has some rips in it, you can cut the edges to wrap a small present for the next year. While this tip doesn’t necessarily help now, after all of the presents are opened, at least you can start being more aware of it now. 

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Boxes that hold clothing items that were gifted can also be used year after year, as well as gift bags of any sort. Dedicate a plastic bin to hold all of these items to keep them safe until the next year. Boxes can be folded in on themselves, which is a great space saver. 

If you already did your holiday clean up and it’s too late to salvage and reuse any items for next year, don’t fret, just think of more sustainable solutions for next year! For instance, there are tons of biodegradable wrapping paper, box, and ribbon options for all of your future gift wrapping needs. This means that even after the holidays you can just throw away all these items in the regular trash and they’ll decompose back into the earth, instead of sitting and emitting harmful chemicals as they break down. 

Finally, it’s time to get rid of that massive Christmas tree in the living room. If your family uses a real tree, there are plenty of sustainable options for what to do with the tree after the holiday to ensure that it’s put back into the earth. The easiest option would be to just throw it in a woodsy area where it can eventually break down and be used as fertilizer for future plants. However, there are many individuals who don’t have access to the woods or any public space where dumping a dead tree would be deemed acceptable. 

Home Depot does a special every year where they collect trees free of charge after the holidays and recycle them, so if you have one near you, drop it there! Additionally, use the internet to see if any other local businesses in your area provide tree recycling services — you might be surprised how many actually do. Many community outreach programs like to use the trees for creative/environmental projects, a fertilizer source, or even as room fragrance with the pine needles.

However you celebrate the holidays, there’s always room to be more sustainable. So this year, welcome in 2020 by giving something back to the Earth and contribute to living a greener and healthier life for the new year.

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