Environment

How to recycle your Christmas decorations

Wondering how to recycle your Christmas decorations? Here's everything you need to know

Lots of wrapping paper has plastic in it, making it hard to recycle. So why not reuse instead? Image: mirsasha/Flickr

Still got the Christmas decorations up? We’ve all been there. One minute it’s December and you’re tucking into your third selection box to the dulcet tones of Michael Bublé. The next you’ve blinked and it’s mid-January, the house is still covered in tinsel and you’re the last in the street with Christmas lights up.

It’s time to say goodbye to another Christmas, but how should you go about recycling greetings cards and wilted trees to mark the start of a sustainable new year?

How to recycle a ‘real’ Christmas tree

If you’re looking for a sustainable solution to saying farewell to this year’s fir or spruce, there are plenty of options for you. Across the country, local councils have facilities that enable residents to recycle their Christmas trees so that they can be used for chippings or soil. To find out whether your local council offers garden waste disposal, click here

Another option, if you’ve got a garden with enough space, is replanting your tree so that you can reuse it next year. This is a great option if you’re green fingered, or if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to your fir-y friend. 

How to recycle an artificial Christmas tree 

The great thing about artificial Christmas trees is that they can reappear time and time again, lasting years of festive seasons to come. But, if it really is time to let your plastic tree go, consider donating your trees to local charity shops. While your old tree may not be to your taste anymore, there are plenty of families on a budget that would give it a brand new lease of life.

Or, if your artificial tree is truly on its last legs, why not save as much of it as possible by transforming its branches into reusable foliage for next year? It may no longer work as your home’s centrepiece, but it can still serve a decorative purpose for years to come

How to recycle Christmas cards

Greetings cards from friends and family can really stack up. Whilst one or two cards may hold sentimental value, the likelihood is that the vast majority of them have to go by the time January rolls around. 

Still, as beautiful as Christmas cards are nowadays, often it can’t help but feel sad to see them go to waste. An excellent trick when it comes to old Christmas cards is just keeping the front to reuse for labels the following year. Card is widely recyclable in the UK, making it easy to ditch the backs of your seasons’ greetings sustainably. 

How to recycle Christmas wrapping paper

Frustratingly, the vast majority of wrapping paper is actually non-recyclable, due to high levels of plastic involved in lamination. To make the best of a bad situation, aim to reuse any sheets that are salvageable for presents next year. Alternatively, save even the most crumpled wrapping for crafting or future festive activities. If you have children you need to entertain, why not get them making paper chains or Christmas bunting out of old wrapping that they can enjoy this time next year. 

How to recycle tinsel

Much like wrapping paper, tinsel is unlikely to be recyclable due to usually being plastic. However, with more and more families ditching tinsel for more modern Christmas decorations, leftovers may still offer another opportunity for a spot of seasonal arts and crafts. Why not chop bits off to use for homemade Christmas cards next year? Or as a jazzy alternative to ribbons when wrapping presents in the future? Whilst you may no longer wish to string tinsel around your trees, you never know when this Christmas classic will come in handy again. 

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