Holiday Clean Up: What Can Be Recycled?




Ah, the holidays. You spend so much time picking out the perfect gifts, wrapping them with care, and filling out the tags…just to have the recipients tear through the paper in a few seconds flat. If you have a lot of gifts to get through at one time, you’re left with just a heap of wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, and bows strewn about your home. What are you supposed to do with it all?


A lot of people would be tempted to just throw it all in a garbage bag and be done with it, but obviously this isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option. If you pride yourself on your sustainability efforts, then you’re going to want to go sort through the waste and put aside those products that are recyclable.


But what can be recycled around the holidays?


Wrapping Paper

For the most part, you can’t place wrapping paper in your recycling bin. Though we may call it “paper”, it often isn’t - at least not 100%. A lot of wrapping paper actually includes a thin plastic coating that makes it unrecyclable. And even if it doesn’t, it still isn’t recyclable if it contains glitter, texture, or anything metallic.


So unless you know the wrapping paper is, in fact, 100% paper, (and you’ve carefully removed all the tape!), you’re going to need to find another eco-friendly option. For example, some people like to fold their used wrapping paper and save it to use again next year. Even if you just do this once, you’re still cutting down on your wrapping paper waste.


Ribbons and Bows

Like wrapping paper, ribbons and bows are often unrecyclable. Therefore, your best bet is to try and hang onto these for the next occasion. Ribbons can be rolled up and secured with tape, and bows can be reattached to next year’s gifts with some double-sided tape.


Tissue Paper

Even though tissue paper is often made from recycled paper, it typically isn’t recyclable. This is because its fibres have been so thinly stretched out that it’s not going to be of much use to recycling companies anymore.


If you want to reduce your tissue paper waste, try and reuse it along with your wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Even the really crinkled stuff can be used to help safely package items in the mail.


Christmas Trees

While you may need to throw your artificial tree in the garbage, real Christmas trees should be 100% recyclable. Check with your municipality or local charitable organizations to see about recycling options. For example, the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington does a Trees for Tots program. For a donation, they’ll collect your tree and put it to good use in the local community.


Christmas Lights

You may not be able to place them in your recycling bin, but there are ways to recycle your Christmas lights in some areas. For example, the Product Care Association of Canada offers a light recycling program to those located in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. If you live elsewhere, be sure to ask around before throwing them in the garbage.


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