Post Holiday Recycling 101

We are three Sundays past Christmas. If you celebrated like my family did with two small children ages 1.5 and five days and 7, you may have ended up with a pile of wrapping paper and bows, and possibly ribbon, if that's your thing, that was so tall, it required three normal sized garbage bags.

I cannot lie, watching the bags be filled hurt my heart and made my pulse quicken. The values I hold so dearly about recycling and waste did not matter on Christmas morning.  Not as I watched the excitement of the children. It was the after mass that caused the hurt and anger and sadness.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was indeed glad that my "sister-in-law" was recycling. I was glad that we did have the ability to even recycle, although my brother who had a brief fling as a trash man, shared with me that Waste Management does not in fact recycle at all, even though they say they do. I am glad that it was only paper. Bows seemed to not be as prevalent under our tree this holiday and I used ribbons, which, we know can be reused.

If you at any time, experienced the same pangs as me, you probably also wanted to find solutions on how to limit the waste. Please know that I'm a stationer. My business is paper. My industry does a fine job of convincing you that you need those shiny and glittery sheets of paper each year during the Holiday season - heck during the entire year for any occasion! This same industry also convinces you that you don't need to do dishes during the holidays - buy paper plates (or plastic or Styrofoam plates, even!), cups, plastic utensils, and decorated napkins and table runners and place mats. While a bit different of an industry, they also suggest you buy those big aluminum trays and cooking pans because, "who wants to scrub a pan during the holidays?"

I get it. And I get the urge to want nicely decorated tables for your loved ones, but you don't need those things. You have everything you need already. (That statement alone is true of life - you have a body, brain and heart. You have everything you need.) All the other stuff is extra. Not to mention extra money at a time when you're already spending more than you may normally. Your family is going to love you whether you have pretty paper plates and matching cups or not.

The paper that you bought, maybe on sale, probably not on sale, is not going to matter and hopefully it will be recycled, but it may not. If it isn't, it will sit in a landfill until it breaks down. If it has glitter, that will go into the ground and insects will eat it. They'll probably die from the ingredient breakdown of ingesting the glitter.

So what can you do? What can I do? I like paper with glitter as much as the next person/crafter/writer/stationer!

Below are suggestions for post holiday recycling. In this case, it may be too late - I am writing three weeks after the Holiday - but as I have been organizing my studio/office and home for the past week and I've started removing the stuff that I don't need - you can never have knowledge of available options. At this point of the year, where we are all trying to usher in better lifestyle choices, it is my joy to share removing the "holiday trash" in an environmentally responsible way:

UPS Recycles Peanuts + Bubble Wrap

I had a box of peanuts and bubble wrap sitting in my apartment for years at this point. A few days ago, I drove to the UPS Store in the town over from mine and dropped off the box. The woman working there was like, "I'll take it all!" Done and done!

If you received any items shipped to you with peanuts and bubble wrap, UPS is your friend. For reals!

Recycle Wrapping Paper

At this point wrapping paper should be added to your normal paper recycling. There are other options for what you can do with them -

1. You can save pieces to wrap gifts next year

2. If you are looking for craft ideas, you can use the paper for collages, or even as a backing toa framed picture. You can turn them into tags like my Mom did recently for a market. You can turn them into envelopes for your cards next year. The possibilities are endless.

Send Cards to St. Jude for their Recycled Card Program

For over 30 years St. Jude has been making recycled cards. It started as a way to say thank you to donors of the St. Jude Ranch for Children and turned into a program that brings money to the children who make the cards, teaches them about recycling and learn basic job skills in addition to helping St. Jude support their programs and services for abused, neglected and homeless children, young adults and families.

There are some restrictions, for example, you cannot send Hallmark, American Greeting or Disney cards due to licensing laws, but they will gladly take cards for all occasions. You can get more information, as well as the address to mail your cards on their website.

I could go on and on with other ways for you to recycle, but I'll save those for future posts. Next, we'll tackle how to recycle old clothes and torn textiles, especially if you got new clothes for the holidays. Until then, happy post Holidays cleaning!

Sara // S2 Stationery & Design