Seasonal Sustainability: Recycling Holiday Goods

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 15:43:09 PM America/Los_Angeles

While it would be great to have everlasting items, even material things have a lifespan. And it seems that the post-holiday season results in particularly large piles of stuff just waiting to be thrown out. The good news is that there are ways to deal with stuff like broken Christmas lights and old trees sustainably. For this post in our seasonal sustainability series, we cover how to go about recycling common holiday decor and other goods. 

Photo by Tanika 

Christmas Trees, Flowers, and Other Greenery

Recycling centers for Christmas trees are starting to become more common, and most people should be able to access one relatively nearby their home. City and county listings are a reliable source for info on where trees can be recycled. Note that trees should be bare and free of ornaments, flocking, tinsel, etc.

Other greenery like holiday bouquets or wreaths are much easier to deal with and can be placed either in the green waste bin or the compost. If reuse sounds more appealing, green “waste” has a lot of potential! They can be used for tinder or left in the backyard to provide food and nesting materials for birds. 


Remember those tiny packets of extra bulbs that came with your string lights? It’s time to try them out if it’s just a couple of bulbs that have gone out. If they don’t work, replacement bulbs can easily be found for less that $10 online–much cheaper and more sustainable than buying an entirely new set of lights. 

If the lights are beyond replacing, they can be taken to a couple of places to be recycled. City/county recycling centers, scrap metal yards, and nonprofits gathering recyclable lights are just a few that may take them at this time of the year. 

Other Decor

Unfortunately, there’s no one stop shop for recycling all sorts of holiday goods. So, what to do with that strange glass and tin can tree topper from your Aunt Thelma that you no longer want to use? For decor that’s made from a variety of materials, it’s best to dismantle or break them down into smaller, recyclable pieces. Then trash is minimized by only tossing out what truly can’t be recycled. 


Food remaining from the holidays typically falls into two categories: unused goods and leftovers. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that those jars of gravy or cans of pumpkin puree are no longer consumable. If these ingredients simply aren’t your jam, consider donating unused items to food pantries or shelters. Otherwise, they can be repurposed–pumpkin is a fantastic addition to dog food for promoting digestive functioning, for instance. 

If you’ve had all the leftover turkey and cranberry sandwiches you can muster for this holiday season, try composting the rest. Composting can easily be done at home, but if this isn’t a practical option, many cities have composting centers. For the basics of composting, check out our post here!

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