How to recycle your Christmas

Filed in Blog by on January 6, 2009 18 Comments
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christmas recyclingChristmas is all but over now and Twelfth night is the traditional time to take down your decorations and say goodbye to the festive season for another year. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some serious recycling and reusing. It also gets you into some good habits to continue throughout 2009.

Wrapping paper

Glittery or sparkly paper is not recyclable and in some areas you cannot recycle foil wrapping paper either. The best thing to do is to keep any wrapping paper for reuse next year. Keep hold of ribbons, gift bags, cellophane wrap and other adornments for reuse too! If the paper is torn or crumpled, then it makes great packing material when posting items or for putting in the bottom of next years hampers.

Cardboard boxes

Kids toys and boys toys often come in cardboard packaging. If it’s an expensive item, then keep the box for a few months in case you need to return the product to the store. Other than that, recycle it at your local recycling bank or rip it up and add to your compost.

Christmas cards

Over one billion cards are sent every year! We keep some of the nicest ones to make back into cards and tags next year. Fortunately, the Woodland Trust make it easy for everyone to recycle with collection bins at various stores throughout the UK such as WHSmith, Tesco, TK Maxx and Marks & Spencer.You can recycle between 2-31st January. Find all the details here.

Christmas trees

Around 8 million real trees are sold each year in the UK. If you were fortunate enough to buy a tree with roots, then plant it in a large pot in the garden ready for next year! If yours is without roots then you can recycle it with your local council. MOST councils provide this service during January, so ask yours for advice on collection times and points. The trees are shredded into wood chip for parks.


This is usually an emotive subject, but nearly all of us will receive a gift that just isn’t what we had hoped for. There is lots you can do to get rid of unwanted gifts – donating to charity, organising a swaps party with friends, donating to jumble sales, keeping for next years shoe box appeal, selling on eBay or gifting through Freecycle or Snaffle Up. Alternatively, keep them for presents for other people on their Birthdays (just don’t give it back to the person who gave it you!)


Help our furry friends by sending your stamps to Beech Tree Bunnies.

What are you doing to reuse or recycle things acquired during the festive season? Can you add any charities to the list of those who can use old stamps to raise funds?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Kris says:

    Thank you for the round-up Mrs G πŸ™‚ and for the bunny charity details.

    I’m off to the hrc tomorrow with my cardboard and wrapping paper recycling, and tripping via Mum’s to load up her excess too. She has been making swords and crowns today with the smaller members of the family.

    We only had one unsuitable gift this year, which was a bottle of something we don’t drink from S’s boss. Tesco were nice enough to let me exchange it.

    Two quite sad things are the packing up of the tree – I’ll miss how pretty it is… and the frustration of inadequate space to collect up all that I want to recycle and keep it tidy.

  2. Sam says:

    I made my own wrapping paper for everyone else this year, so it should be recyclable, but unfortunately, we got lots of unrecyclable paper.
    Ds2 uses it until it’s in pieces, in his “projects”, but thanks for the ideas the remains.
    Our tree and decorations go back in their boxes, we keep the cards for cutting up and we didn’t get any unsuitable presents, so we’re done πŸ™‚

  3. Dormouse says:

    Got a brilliant PURE DAB radio for Christmas with very eco-friendly packaging apart from the ubiquitous silica gel packet but the teen eco-warrior reckons we could collect them for drying out our cellar!!

  4. Katy says:

    We had a very low-key Christmas and really don’t have much to recycle at all. Our tree, while plastic, was bought several years ago and is good quality so will last several more. I like my real trees to be outside in the woods πŸ™‚

    As to stamps… I have heard that, generally, you will pay more to Royal Mail for sending your stamps to a charity, than the charity will get for those stamps. Should you just recycle the stamped envelopes and donate the postage money to your charity? (I don’t have an answer!)

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Kris, it sounds like your Mum had a fun-filled day! We’re planning a trip to the recycling centre on Thursday with our post Christmas recycling. I’m glad you were able to return the unsuitable present and I know what you mean about the storage of things – we have stuff spilling out over here. I’m looking forward to a good clear out on Thursday…

    Hi Sam; it sounds like you have things pretty much under control and your son sounds pretty resourceful and imaginative with his use of paper. Dd would have shredded wrapping paper all over the house if I let her LOL!

    Hi Dormouse; welcome to the site and what a lovely present for Christmas. I take it you have a small cellar LOL! We had a pack of gel with a toy sleigh we bought for Little Miss green. Grrrrrr. I just found this article; I don’t know if anything might be of use to you on it:

    Hi Katy – happy new year to you. You raise a very interesting point about the stamps and I would love to find out for more. You’ve certainly made me stop and think. I’ll look into it and perhaps you can let me know if you find anything else out. πŸ™‚

  6. Poppy says:

    Thanks for silica gel link Rae. I’ve often wondered about those.

  7. Kris says:

    The hrc trip didn’t happen today after all – I got cold feet about getting cold wheels in a place that might be covered in ice!

    Like you Mrs G, tomorrow is c/o day! So the hrc trip is just deferred – quite sensibly πŸ˜‰

  8. Mrs Green says:

    You’re welcome Poppy; there is a wealth of information and experience out there!

    Kris,I hope you are now relieved of your recycling. The ice has gone, to be replaced with wind!

  9. Compostwoman says:

    I use silica gel sachets to keep my seed packets viable in my seed tins………….

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Compostwoman; welcome to the site and I love your blog. It seems you are a neighbour just across our county border πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tip about silica gel sachets; I think a lot of people can benefit from that idea as many of us are dipping toes into growing our own food.

  11. Compostwoman says:

    Hello there Mrs Green!

    Yes, county border is only a few fields away from us, and I often go to Newent for a wander round, its a lovely town.

    Thanks for the nice comment about my blog, I love yours, also πŸ™‚

  12. Bob Payne says:

    Our local church collects used stamps for charity. Mail C/O St. Stephens 1438 Woodeden Dr. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5H2T9

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Bob Payne: Hi Bob, welcome to the site. Great news about the stamps; this will be really helpful information for people in your country. THank you for sharing!

  14. H0gg1t says:

    With regard to recycling used postage stamps; I believe the RSPB accepts stamps, may be wrong, but my son’s Primary school has collection boxes scattered around school for these and an interested Teacher sends them off. Will find out details and advise in due course. Hope this was of help!

  15. Fantastic blog, was introduced to your great tips by fellow mummy blogger Karen. I tend to keep gift bags for next year and enjoy cutting up cards to make them into gift tags. We have to save these days as Christmas is so expensive without all the trimmings. Thanks for your tips.

    CJ xx

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @H0gg1t: H0gg1t, that’s brilliant – thank you! I would love to write a full post about collecting stamps, so yes, please do keep me posted (boom boom!)

    @Crystal Jigsaw: Hey CJ; welcome to the site – i love your blog! I will be reading more of your stuff and I’m glad you enjoyed some of my tips πŸ™‚

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