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Make the Most of Your Gifts with Holiday Recycling

holiday recycling tips

Holiday recycling is about more than regifting that sweater you opened last year or passing along gift cards you’re unlikely to use. It’s about making sure your holiday season is kind to the planet.

Both before and after the gift exchange, holiday recycling can reduce the waste going into landfills and give new life to paper products. After all, paper products can be recycled up to 7 times to make new products before the fibers become too weak to be recycled again.

Recycling packaging

Even before the holidays, the rise in e-commerce meant more boxes arriving on our doorsteps. E-commerce in the United States grew by 44 percent in 2020, and with that growth came a rise in package deliveries and the use of paper packaging materials.

In a study of U.S. packaging preferences, former Two Sides North America, Inc. President Phil Reibel said, “Consumers are becoming more aware of available packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is influencing packaging decisions by businesses, particularly in the retail sector.”

Much of this packaging can be recycled, but don’t forget to flatten your boxes before you set them out on your curb for pickup or take them to your local recycling center.

Recycling wrapping paper, cards and more

Before the holidays, you can choose to use products made from recycled paper, such as wrapping paper, greeting cards and gift bags. But after you’ve unwrapped everything under the tree, there’s more recycling to be done.

The Paper & Packaging Board estimates that 80 percent of holiday waste can be reused, repurposed or recycled. And that’s not even counting gifts that don’t fit.

Holiday cards, wrapping paper, catalogs, magazines, shopping lists, paper packaging materials and even your eggnog cartons can be recycled in most areas. Tip: To ensure your wrapping paper can be recycled, use paper with a matte (uncoated) finish. Ribbons and bows may not be recyclable, but you can set them aside to be reused or repurposed next year.

Check your local recycling guidelines to make sure what you put in your bin is accepted for recycling in your area.

These FAQs from the American Forest & Paper Association can be helpful, too, as you aim to have a sustainable, joyful holiday season.