The cards have been read, the presents have been opened, and the Christmas tree has is starting to wilt. So now what? Throw it all into the trash? No way! Considering that most of the items can be recycled, reused, or upcycled, there’s good reason to be mindful when it comes to dealing with what’s left behind from the holidays.
Your Real Christmas Tree
If you bought a real Christmas tree this year, check with your city to see when the Christmas tree pick-up will take place (usually the first week of January). Be sure that your tree is free from all decorations and that you do not place it in a bag. Most cities recycle the trees by chipping them into mulch or wood chips and some use them to create compost. If you are curious, check with your city to see what programs they have in place for your recycled tree.
Your Holiday Cards
Many cards are not recyclable due to the materials they were made with (plastic, metal fibres, glitter etc.) , so this is a great idea for cards of this type. I’ll admit though, I have never used this tip. Why? Because I am a card hoarder. I have a hard time parting with thoughtful cards that were written to me. If I were to get over this, I LOVE this creative project that will turn your unwanted cards into pretty gift tags.
Your Unwanted Gifts
Did you receive something you don’t love? Or maybe you received the same gift twice? Donate it! Depending on what the item is, consider donating it to a shelter, a school, or a local charity.
If you are into re-gifting, there’s that too...
Your Wrapping Paper
Like cards, most wrapping paper cannot be recycled. If your wrapping paper is still in large pieces and is not too wrinkled or ripped, these pieces can be reused to wrap future gifts. If you don't want to reuse the wrapping paper, save the large, undamaged pieces and check to see if the kindergarten classes at your child's school will accept them. Kindergarteners are constantly making crafts, so large pieces of pretty paper would be a great addition to their craft supplies.
If they are still in good condition, go ahead and re-use them. A lot of boxes ARE recyclable though (check to see if it has a recycle logo on it to be 100% sure), so if they aren’t in good conditions, throw them in the recycle bin.
Bonus: Your Wine Corks
Many of us opened a few wine bottles over the holidays; don’t throw away the corks, save them! There are so many cute craft ideas to keep the kids busy, like this one:
Do you have any other ideas of how to recycle or upcycle what’s left from the holidays?
When I think about my childhood, the memories that immediately come to mind are: riding bikes with my sister, playing outside until it got dark, tobogganing, being excited to buy candy at corner store with the quarter I found on the sidewalk, seeing the Thriller video for the first time and being afraid to sleep, school track meets, skinning my knees because I was carrying too many kids on the back of my bike, watching fireworks with my family, playing marbles for hours, winning all of my sister’s marbles, her crying, me having to give them all back...
These are the experiences I remember and smile about. My memories aren’t filled with the “things” from my childhood because when it comes to the things, my mind is a little foggy. I do remember getting a colouring book that only needed a paintbrush and water to make the colours miraculously appear. I loved that book. I remember getting a life sized doll one Christmas. Her name is Cindy—my kids now play with her. My point is, the memories of my experiences flood back faster than the memories of the "things."
Have you ever seen The Story of Stuff? It’s a fast-paced, interesting video that teaches us where the stuff we buy in stores comes from and where it eventually ends up—so it explains exactly what is involved with making a product from extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal. It’s a little over 20-minutes long, but it’s such an important video that will get you thinking about what you buy and bring into your home. Go ahead, take a look:
What did you think? Eye opening, right?
The reason why I am talking about this is because of the approaching holiday season (but this thinking can also be applied at any time of the year). Think of some of the things we’ll all be buying for our kids. Things like this season's “it” toys that will be played with for a short time and then forgotten. In the past, I have been totally guilty of buying the toy of the moment. Nowadays, when I buy something for them, I ask myself these two questions: Is this the kind of toy they will remember when they are older? Will this toy be tossed aside after a few weeks?
Now, I’m not saying don’t buy toys for your kids, of course, buy them toys! But maybe be more mindful by thinking about how, what, and how much you buy:
Now back to the quote above: Collect memories, not things. Beautiful, right? My family has created countless memories so far through traditions and past vacations. Of course, creating meaningful memories isn't something that can be forced, memory creating moments are sometimes unexpected, and usually, those end up being the best kind.
How about you? Have you see The Story of Stuff? Are you mindful of the things you buy for your kids? Is creating meaningful memories something that is important to you?
Each time I sit down to wrap a gift, the same thought always comes to mind—why am I spending so much time making my gifts look so pretty when the wrap is ripped off in an instant and immediately thrown away? This always makes me re-think what I am doing, especially since most store-bought wrapping paper is not recyclable. I bet you didn't know that! Here is why you can't recycle it:
* Check with you city’s recycling program to get info on exactly what type of paper products are accepted as policies vary from city to city.
Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly gift wrap options to choose from. Here are a few:
Burlap is made from the skin of the jute plant, so as long as it is in its natural state, it is 100% biodegradable and compostable. The fact that it can easily be prettied up makes it a perfect wrap for gifts. Burlap can be used over and over again.
Image Source: furochic.com
Reusable fabric is another great eco-friendly option for your gift wrap. Canadian company, Furochic, manufactures several different prints and shows you creative and fun ways to wrap your gifts with fabric on their YouTube channel.
Image Source: Green Planet Parties
Cloth bags are an excellent idea for gift-giving. They are convenient, reusable, and come in many fun prints.
I save all of the gift bags, boxes, and baskets I receive and re-use them (that's not the same as re-gifting, right?) As long as they are in good condition, then why not? Note that most gift bags, unless they carry the recycle symbol, are not recyclable. So re-use them as much as possible.
Image Source: Cascades Boutique
If you are a traditionalist and aren't too interested in straying away from wrapping paper, no need to worry because recyclable wrap does exist! Be sure that when you are purchasing, you look for the recycle symbol and that the inks used are water or vegetable based. Kraft paper can also be used.
Once your gifts are all wrapped up, here are some eco-friendly ideas to give them the finishing touch: