How to properly recycle all your Christmas bits – from wrapping paper to the tree


Christmas day can be super messy, and there’s often an awful lot to clean up the next day – but what is the most environmentally friendly way to get rid of our festive waste?

It's no secret Christmas can get a little messy...
It’s no secret Christmas can get a little messy…

Well, that’s Christmas day officially wrapped up for another year, leaving a strew of wrapping paper, stray ribbons, full bellies and hangovers in its wake.

While the festivities are far from over, many households will be embarking on the ultimate post-Christmas clean-up mission today, throwing away all the excess wrapping and trying to regain some order to the living room. It really is a struggle.

Back in the day, most families would have one designated bin bag holder (usually mum or dad), who would be ready and waiting to pounce on any stray wrapping paper and other festive mess to go straight in the bin. Now that we live in a much more environmentally conscious, it’s not that simple.

So, how can be make a conscious effort to be as green in as possible in the wake of Christmas day? Well, recycling what you can is a really good place to start.

Not all wrapping paper can be recycled
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Wrapping paper

Back in the day, most families would have one designated bin bag holder (usually mum or dad), who would be ready and waiting to pounce on any stray wrapping paper and other festive mess to go straight in the bin. Now that we live in a much more environmentally conscious, it’s not that simple.

When we think about recycling what we can from Christmas, it can be easy to assume that all wrapping paper can just go in the paper recycling bin, but despite its name, many aren’t paper at all.

Many are in fact plastic based and sadly cannot be recycled. The rule of thumb for telling if it its paper or plastic, is to scrunch the wrapping paper in a ball – if it stays scrunched, it’s likely paper and can be recycled as such.

Meanwhile, it would, again, be easy to assume that items such as tissue paper and paper hats can be recycled, but in truth they contain very few of the good fibres required to be recycled. The best thing to do with these items is put them in your compost bin at home, or if you don’t have one, at your local recycling centre.

Decorations, such as fairy lights, can go to the recycling centre

Decorations

Most of your decorations will go back into boxes before being shoved up into the loft ready to come back down next year, but sadly they don’t always live forever – which means at some point you’re likely to need to throw some of it away.

If any of your fairy lights bit the dust this year then we have some good news for you; fairy lights can actually be recycled alongside other electrical items. All you need to do is search for your local recycling centre here.

Baubles, on the other hand, cannot be recycled for the most part, as they’re often made out of a type of plastic which is non-recyclable in the UK, and are often covered in decorative glitter, which also causes big problems for the recycling system.

If you happen to have a wreath hung at your front door, then the chances are you will be able to recycle it, so long as it’s made out of natural materials like holly and ivy. These items can go in your garden waste bin, but be sure to remove any ribbons, plastic or glitter first.

Christmas trees need to be disposed of by your local council
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Image:

Getty Images)

Christmas tree

If you bought yourself a real tree for Christmas this year, then you might already be wondering what exactly you’re supposed to do with it when the time comes for taking down the decorations and wishing goodbye to the festivities for another year.

The truth is, it depends on the state of the tree when you bought it, as to what’s best to do with it once you’re done. If you bought the tree with its roots still attached, then the best thing to do is to replant it, in the hopes of keeping it alive (and even growing it some more) by the time next Christmas comes around. If it came in a pot, all you need to do is transfer it into a larger pot to give it room to flourish and grow.

However, if you bought a tree which already had the roots removed, as most people do, then you’ll need to ensure your Christmas tree goes to local council’s Christmas tree recycling scheme. You can find out which recycling scheme your own local council uses by putting your postcode in here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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