Sure, we all know by now how to recycle our Christmas trees. Here in the Triad it’s as simple as hauling your tree to the curb (if you live within city limits) and wait for the city to pick it up. Just know it could take several weeks – but it’s so worth it. If you are unsure if your tree will be picked up or if you should drop it off somewhere, Guilford residents (for both Greensboro and High Point) can call 641-3792 for recycling information, and Winston-Salem residents can call City Link at 727-8000 (City Link can also provide drop-off locations for those of us who live in apartments.).

But did you know we all create about 25% more trash than normal during this holiday time? Christmas trees are just one small part. There are lots of other things you might normally dispose of that can easily be recycled and/or used again next year. Here are some ideas on how you can recycle your holiday…

Recycle Your Holiday Cards

I found the following ideas on which says that each year 2.65 billion Christmas cards are created. Instead of throwing these cards out, here are some things you can do:

1. Mail your holiday cards to St. Jude’s Ranch, a nonprofit home for children. They collect old holiday cards for resuse. You can either cut off the back of the card (where the sender may have written a note) or send as is. St. Jude’s earns money by creating new holiday cards from the old.
2. Get the kids to help you create cards for next year. Cut and paste parts of cards you received this year onto new blank cards. You can find packages of blank cards at most craft and stationery stores.
3. Or cut up your holiday cards and create gift tags for next year. Just cut them into small square or rectangular shapes and punch holes in the corner for ribbon.
4. Create holiday placemats out of your holiday cards. Simply cut out some of your favorite pictures and shapes, place them between two pieces of contact paper, and press together.
5. Or just save all our holiday cards for arts and craft projects for the kids all year-round!

Recycle Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is not “recyclable” but it has more uses than for packaging! Again, I found some great reuse ideas for bubble wrap at

1. Wrap bubble wrap around the pots of plants outside on your patio and consider those plants “winterized.” Make the wrap extend a few inches above the top edge of the pot and secure with duct tape.
2. Bubble wrap can be used as an insulator for food and drinks. You can wrap up ice cream, soft drinks and frozen foods to keep them cold if you don’t have a cooler or alternate method.
3. Tell your husband to line his tool box with bubble wrap so those wrenches and screwdrivers you got him will last longer. Also, he can cover his work surfaces with bubble wrap when working on delicate items.
4. For really cold nights, place a sheet of bubble wrap between the quilt and top sheet for added insulation. Ok, I think has gone a little far in this application for bubble wrap. Maybe this idea should be used for outdoor camping trips only!
5. Protect produce in your fridge by lining the crisper drawer with bubble wrap. It will cushion fruits and vegetables and prevent  bruising. It also helps keep your fruit and vegetable drawers cleaner.

Recycle Batteries

Simply visit and find your zip code. This site will give you places nearby that will accept these batteries. Sometimes, Best Buy and Office Depot have recycling kiosks inside their stores too.

Another site that offers information about recycling centers for batteries and hazardous waste is This site is endorsed by the EPA. You just need to plug in your zip code and the type of battery you want to recycle, and it will tell you were to go.

Also try Call 2 Recycle. This site is run by The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, a non-profit business that helps to promote sustainability.

Recycle Electronics and Cell Phones

Got a new iPad or smart phone for the holidays? Before you pitch your old one, visit The Wireless Alliance, your local Staples store, or THIS page on the EPA website for ideas on ways you can recycle those electronics!

Recycle Wrapping Paper

Unfortunately you can’t “recycle” wrapping paper because of its colors and sheen, but you can certainly be creative and organized about how you use it so you’ll have more left over next year. I’ve never been good at this, but you can be extra careful opening your gifts so you can reuse that paper next year. Good luck trying to teach that to the kids, though. Be sure to never pitch a gift bag – those are easy to reuse again and again. And just be mindful on how you cut paper when you wrap. Try to cut as close to the amount you need so you are not having to throw out a lot of unused paper.

Recycle Packing Peanuts

Oh how I am not a fan of how these stick to everyone and everything in our house, and they are also not “recyclable” unless they are plastic. Just contact the Plastic Loosefill Council for a list of drop-off centers nearby. Also, the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers may be a good contact if you are going to be recycling a large quantity. If all else fails, I’m sure any packaging and shipping center (like Mail Boxes Etc or Goin’ Postal) would gladly accept your unused packaging materials.

What else can we recycle from our holidays, and how do we do it?