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Holiday Recycling Tips: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle This Holiday Season

Celebrate sustainably by following these recycling tips during the holiday season

Christmas TrashThe holiday season is here.  From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, this time of the year is filled with the rituals of holiday parties and special family dinners, gift giving and wrapping, the tree…  It’s a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends.  All this celebrating however contributes to a significant increase in the number of cans full of waste at the curb.  With a little thought, we think that you can green your holiday rituals and celebrations and make them more meaningful.  Read on for a few tips on how to celebrate the holidays more sustainably.


  • Wrapping “paper”
    Rule of thumb: if it rips, it recycles. Excluded from this is metallic, glittery or velvet flocked paper.
  • Holiday gift bags
    Of course, you purchase holiday gift bags with the idea of reusing them. However, on occasion, they get ripped by over enthusiastic gift recipients.  You will be glad to learn that both holiday and regular paper bags are welcome in the recycling bin.  (This is subject to the same exclusions as wrapping paper above.)
  • Wrapping paper rolls
    Don’t forget your regular paper towel and toilet paper rolls too!
  • Holiday cards
    Paper holiday cards, are recyclable excluding those that are glitter-laden. Don’t let all that recyclable paper go to waste this season, put them in your recycling bin!  And don’t forget the envelopes!
  • Mail
    The many catalogs that you receive in your mailbox are recyclable. Better still, go to to unsubscribe from the catalogs that you don’t want. 
  • Boxes
    Cardboard, shoe, and gift boxes … With the rise of cybershopping, you might have a bigger inventory of cardboard boxes and a large number of those gift boxes that make such pretty packages under the tree. Remember to break them down flat before placing them in your bin to ensure enough space for the higher volume of recyclables you are likely to incur through the holidays.  Don’t forget your regular kitchen boxes (cereal, cake, stuffing mix boxes...)
  • Cookie tins
    When you receive tins of cookies, consider saving them to contain your own baked gift next year. But if they are no longer useful, do place them in your recycling bin once washed out!
  • Your live holiday tree
    Will be picked up at the curb by Township staff beginning in early January. You may also drop them off at the Convenience Center at Jack Stephan Way.   Please check out the Green Team’s post on whether it is better for the environment to buy a live or fake tree.
  • Make sustainable choices with your online shopping.
    Retailers such as Amazon offers an option for avoiding plastic and reducing  
    • Do so by phone: call Amazon at 1-888-280-4331
    • Send an email to customer service This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and ask them to avoid plastic packing and extra packaging (meaning no bubble wrap or packing peanuts.)
    • Or do a live chat with a customer service agent at their Contact Page. (you will need to log in to your account first.)
    • Opt for slower delivery and cut down the extra resources needed for that faster next day delivery.


  • Bows and ribbons
    Your best bet is to save them and reuse them each year. Bows and especially, ribbons are not good for the recycling bin and can clog up the machinery.
  • Wrapping paper that doesn’t rip
    Remember the rip test. If your wrapping paper doesn’t rip, then it is probably made of plastic, not paper and cannot be recycled.
  • Tissue paper
    Tissue paper is usually made from low grade or recycled paper and cannot be recycled. You can, however, put it in your compost bin. 
  • Christmas tree lights
    Maybe you’re trimming the tree only to discover that last year’s lights are no longer repairable, or you’ve gone greener and purchased super-efficient and durable LED lights. Whatever you do, don’t put them in your recycling bin.  You can recycle them by mailing them to retailers such as Christmas Light Source in Fort Worth, Texas or com in Jackson, Michigan
  • Plastic cutlery and disposable cups/plates/napkins from Holiday entertaining
    If you can avoid it altogether, that is the best strategy. But if you need to use disposables, consider washing and reusing plastic cutlery and cups again and again. When you can’t use it any longer, you should put this in the trash, not your recycling bin.  Use cloth napkins and regular plates.   They not only look nicer but are less wasteful.
  • Packing peanuts
    This non-biodegradable plastic waste is one of the most common types of debris endangering our marine wildlife. Bag them all up in a clear plastic bag and donate them to your local shipping store such as The UPS Store.  Be sure to call your local store first for additional information.
  • Bubble wrap
    Bubble wrap can jam and damage sorting machinery and so, is not recyclable.  You may be able to deposit it, along with your plastic bags at the local grocery store plastic film collection bin.  Reuse ideas are available at  But you will need to refrain from popping!
  • Plastic shopping bags
    We have several retailers in Ewing, such as Home Depot, ShopRite and Marazzo’s that collect plastic film in collection boxes at the entrance to the stores.

Follow these tips to help minimize your environmental impact during the holiday season.   Reduce, reuse and recycle throughout your holiday celebration this year and every year.