After Christmas Eco-Savings

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

You spent months calculating and saving on the perfect Christmas gifts. Now, it's time to save a little after Christmas. Other than the usual after Christmas sales, think about environmental savings. It may not do much for your bank account, other than possibly saving on your garbage bill by putting out less trash, but it will do wonders for your future.


Recycle the Wrap

It's a Christmas morning tradition. Open a large kitchen garbage bag in the living room and fill it with wrapping paper and boxes while opening gifts. Try a little bit of trash management and save on your curbside pickup. Wrapping paper, most of it, is recyclable. Keep one bag only for wrapping and tissue paper. Then, create a separate pile for cardboard boxes. Many municipalities are collecting paper for recycling either during pickup or in bins at specific locations. Drop your wrapping paper there; you'll be surprised how much is collected. Corrugated cardboard and paperboard is usually collected at specific recycling drop-offs. Offer to deliver your neighbor's cardboard as well and save on gas emissions while encouraging others to recycle.


It Can All Go Somewhere

With the exception of ribbon and the clear plastic bubble-like forms that surround action figures or small electronic devices, most every packing item found under the Christmas tree is recyclable. Hard plastic such as the bars that hold twist-ties on toys and DVD cases are all recyclable with your household plastic collection. Make it a family event to clear out the living room once the gifts are opened. Assign a specific type of collection to each family member, and send them all on a scavenger hunt. You'll find very little at the curb Monday morning.

Consider It While You Wrap

After Christmas sales are the time when many gather next year's wrapping and bows. Think green both in money and environment while shopping the sales this year. While paper gift bags are traditionally reused by the recipient, cloth bags will definitely find another use. Purchase cloth gift bags in all sizes this year or decorative solid gift boxes made out of thick cardboard or wood for gifting. The more use they get and the guarantee that they'll find their way into a recycling bin when they're done will make for a better wrapping choice. Places like Oriental Trading sells bulk packages of tote bags with snowmen and mittens on the side - the perfect replacement for paper gift bags.


One large savings would be to forgo wrapping paper altogether. Opt to wrap in blankets, towels, or other usable items. With some creativity, newspaper and comics can be cute and trendy. Remember, no matter how eco-friendly you try to get, kids still like to rip paper from boxes on Christmas morning.

Do the Same for the Decos

While many of your decorations will be carefully boxed and stored, some are destined for the trash. Greens should be mulched using a hand trimmer and used to protect plants for the winter. If you have room on your property, lay your Christmas tree in a remote location to provide shelter for birds and small animals during the winter months. You can take it to the leaf and brush recycling pile in the spring. Any other vegetative decorations you may have purchased should also be left out for winter munching. Country-style decorating invites gourds, berries, and fruits to adorn greenery; these are all inviting snacks to small animals once they are too shriveled to be decorative.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at

December 29, 20100 found this helpful

Just want to mention that if you are a teacher or librarian you can make beautiful bookmarks out of recycled Christmas cards. Cut off the picture part, then cut it into thirds, lengthwise. Don't worry about cutting through the printed message. They are beautiful and our students really like them!

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January 2, 20110 found this helpful

Also, Christmas cards can be cut down to make post cards to use the following year. Or, if it's just a winter scene, you can use them anytime during the winter months!

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