Soon the scrumptious food and the unwrapping frenzy will be behind us, and we'll be ready to take down the Christmas tree, store the decorations, and settle into a brand new year. Now is the time to think about how we can do our "green" part and recycle everything we can from the holidays.
Recycling Christmas trees is a normal part of the after-holiday-getting-back-to-normal process. But many people, myself included, haven't thought about recycling the Christmas cards and wrapping paper, too.
Amazingly, approximately 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sent out every year. That's a lot of Christmas cheer that usually ends up in a garbage bag, along with the wrapping paper. If you want to get creative, besides recycling the cards and wrapping paper, you can use them to make things from craft projects, to playing cards, to collages, bookmarks, gift tags or make your own gift bags.
If you aren't creative and you don't have a clue where to take your Christmas recyclables, it's frequently as easy as putting it in your normal bi-weekly recycle pick-up. If you don't have trash and recycle pick-up, or don't want to wait, here are a few websites with listings and instructions on how you can recycle.
Calaveras County: www.ccsolidwaste.org
San Joaquin County: www.sjgov.org/solidwaste
Northern California: www.calrecycle.ca.gov
You want to be careful not to recycle all parts of the cards, like those that play music or those that have metallic parts. The same goes for wrapping paper.
It's helpful if you begin thinking "green" before it's time to buy your holiday gift wrap, boxes, etc. For example, instead of traditional wrapping paper, try using brown grocery bags, aluminum foil, comics or sports section of the newspaper (or whatever is appropriate for the gift recipient).
The sky is really the limit when it comes to ideas for wrapping gifts. How about wrapping in pillowcases, old maps, or fabric. You can use natural decorations on gift boxes like flowers, pine boughs, small gifts or candy canes. You can avoid gift wrapping entirely by sending the recipient on a treasure hunt to find their gift. Just give them small cards with clues on them.
If you just can't resist buying that bright shiny gift wrap, be sure to use the brands that use recycled content. You can find it at www.amazon.com or www.snailspacepaper.com, or check with your local retailer.
Here are a few more ways to have a greener holiday season.
- Give gift certificates instead of presents.
- Give gifts to movies, concerts or sporting events.
- Make a donation in the person's name to a cause they believe in supporting.
- Make homemade gifts like cookies or picture albums of family memories.
- Pass on a family heirloom.
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