Reduce Waste: Learn Where to Recycle Your Holiday Items


Cut down Christmas tree

December ushers in holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa. Americans create 25% more trash during the holidays because it often involves decorating your home, exchanging gifts, cooking and hosting more meals, etc. Despite our best efforts, we inevitably end up with more trash than usual.

In 2012, Americans generated about 251 million tons of trash and recycled and composted almost 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.5 % recycling rate. On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds but we’re still generating about four pounds per person per day.  

So we all have room for improving our recycling muscle. Avoid tossing your holiday supplies in the trash this year. That includes holiday cards, wrapping paper, boxes, holiday lights and trees. Recycling is increasingly becoming part of many household activities; however, sometimes it’s not easy to know where and what you can recycle.

Here are some tips that will help you get prepared to recycle some of that holiday waste:

  • Recycle your Christmas tree (non-government website)
  • Reuse old holiday ornaments (non-government website)
  • Recycle paper and cardboard items in community single stream collection bins
  • Recycle holiday lights for free (non-government website)
  • Consider donating gently used items with local charities like local charities or places of worship.
  • Check with your local municipality to see if they provide composting services for food wastes and other organic waste materials
  • Got something to recycle? Search for a solution here

GSA has had a robust recycling program for more than 10 years. At GSA, where “Making a More Sustainable Government” is one of our six priorities, we know we can continue to lead the way toward zero waste and not just during the holidays.

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Last Reviewed 2016-06-21