Holiday Green Cleaning For the Morning After Mess

Torn giftware beneath Christmas tree.

It's the morning after. Santa has come and gone. Formerly festive Christmas wrap is piled high throughout your living room. Bedraggled ribbons bedeck the halls (and everything else).

The fridge is bulging with leftovers. You've got a gazillion gifts to exchange. And even the tree is looking a bit tired. It's the most mind-numbing time of the year. 

These holiday green cleaning tips for the days after Christmas can reduce the amount of waste going into landfills this season.

Holiday Green Cleaning for All the Trimmings

  • Wrapping paper: First of all - don't burn gift wrap. The inks on some of the wraps cause toxic fumes when burned. Secondly, don't toss it. Much of the gift wrap (at least that on adult gifts) can be folded or rolled and used again next year. Wrap that's torn or crumpled can be saved for children's craft projects.
  • Cards: Leftover Christmas cards can be saved for all sorts of craft projects next year. Kids can cut out Santas or reindeer to make their own Christmas cards or gift wrap. You can even cut them up and use them as gift tags for next year.
  • Boxes: Most of these can be folded and kept for future use. The rest can be folded and recycled.
  • Bows and ribbons: Save the presentable bows and ribbons for next year's gifts.
  • Polystyrene popcorn: Many private mailing stores will take them. Or save them for your own mailing needs throughout the year ahead.

Also, check around your community to see whether any children's centers, teacher cooperatives, or recyclers accept seasonal leftovers.

Recycle Christmas Tree and Holiday Greenery

Trees take a long time to decompose in landfills. Most communities, however, provide chipping services that will reduce your tree, wreaths, and other greenery to biodegradable mulch.

First, however, you need to de-trim the tree. Remove ornaments and lights and pack them away for next year. Take off the tree stand. Make sure to remove all tinsel.

Flocked tree? Sorry, you're out of luck. These can't be recycled. Wreaths and holiday garlands can only be recycled if you remove all the metal supports.

Holiday Green Cleaning the Fridge

This is an excellent time to consider starting a compost pile. Composting your leftovers (except those containing meat or dairy products) in the backyard does two good things: it lessens the amount of waste going into our landfills, and can become food for your garden in 2023.

Compost helps improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your garden soil pH balance in check. If Santa still owes you a present, ask for a composting bin. That way, you can keep on giving to Mother Earth throughout the new year.

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