How to recycle as much as possible after Christmas

I hope you all had a good, green Christmas. Having given four BBC radio interviews over the last two weeks mostly based on asking me for various reuse and recycling tips, this blog is all about maximising recycling and reuse after the seasonal festivities.

Christmas trees
If you had a real one, most places have schemes where they will collect them for recycling / you can add them to your garden waste bin, or you can drop them off at collection points.   I'm often asked whether it is better to invest in a good fake tree which can be used every year or whether plastic should always be avoided and a real tree bought instead.  The obvious problem with this is the cutting down of the tree and although Christmas trees are fast-growing, it is a bit symptomatic of a throwaway culture.

There are three great solutions - either decorate a tree outside, hire a living tree each year from the Christmas Tree Rental people (if you live near Cheltenham), or make your own tree - Here's one that I made from old buttons, which had three bonus features: 1. Reused items that I had. 2. Didn't take up any space.  3. Didn't shed any pine needles ;)

Christmas cards
You can donate these to various charities for recycling.  Often supermarkets have collection points too.  Alternatively, you can cut the picture out, stick it onto new card and reuse, or turn a few into present tags, using serrated craft scissors and old ribbons like my friend Kiki does.  Last resort - pop them in the paper / card recycling.

Wrapping paper
I haven't bought any for decades :) I carefully open any used paper that is good enough to use again, then I flatten it and it goes into the Christmas box.  I also use boxes, scarves / material etc with ribbons or string instead of sellotape.  You can recycle wrapping paper, but not the shiny type - so please try never to buy this and if you do, make sure that it is reused every year.  Throughout the year, look out for shoe boxes or similar, decorate them and use them instead of wrapping paper.  Children especially love helping with these sorts of projects. The boxes store inside each other ready for the following season.  This year, for the few family presents given, I wrapped everything in various  pieces of material using ribbons to tie them - they looked really good and there was zero waste (as were the very carefully chosen gifts - many of which were home-made).

Double use - reusable.  This year, I sent a couple of small presents which were wrapped in vegan recipes I'd cut out of a newspaper and tied with string (which will be reused in the recipients garden).

I have one Christmas box in the loft with a few decorations - I think there's something lovely about reusing them every year, especially the hand / home made ones.  If you like to have a different theme each year, donate them to charity.

If you have received a gift that has come in packaging, some of this can be recycled with your local council collection - paper, cardboard etc. But for any packaging made from polystyrene, bubble wrap etc you could give it to friends who sell things on Ebay, put it on Freecycle or a Facebook group and someone will gratefully collect it.  Some charity shops may be pleased to accept it too (check with them).

Remember, if you have upgraded a gadget, item of clothing, lampshade etc. give the old item a good clean, then take it to a charity shop, or recycle it if too worn.  I had a very tatty, broken umbrella, that I carefully pulled apart, then sent the metal for scrap and the material was given to someone who turned it into a waterproof dog coat!

Please don't buy them - they are a real nuisance for the environment. You can read all about it at Balloons Blow or at Balloon releases harm wildlife.

I gave the birds a Christmas treat (and will continue to feed them through the winter).  My friend Mandy gave me a jar of lamb fat (from bones she was given for her dogs) and I collected some sunflower seeds from Gina.

I melted the fat, added the seeds, the contents of the toaster tray and a few pumpkin seeds.  Next I let the mixture cool, then formed fat balls which I put into the fridge to set.  These have gone onto the bird feeder.  It's really simple and completely free :)

Our Christmas / New Year Waste
You'll probably not be too surprised to learn that we had no food waste and no extra rubbish at Christmas.  The recycling would have been increased by a couple of extra bottles, but I've given these to a friend who makes her own wine. *** Update ***  I'm also pleased to report that our own wheelie bin is still not full and currently hasn't been out for THREE years

Do you have any other festive recycling tips?