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7 ways to recycle this Christmas

Have a very merry sustainable Christmas this year by following our tips for using less and recycling more.

How to celebrate a sustainable Christmas

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but sadly it’s also a time where we generate extra waste. Celebrate an eco-friendly Christmas by buying sustainable Christmas gifts and following our seven top tips on everything from using sustainable Christmas decorations to recycling wrapping paper.

1. Wrap it smarter: eco wrapping paper

It’s estimated Aussies use enough wrapping paper at Christmas time it could go around the world almost four times. Here’s what you need to know to be an eco-wrapper: not all wrapping paper is recyclable. Anything with glitter or foil definitely can’t go in the yellow kerbside bin. The best thing you can do is buy wrapping paper that clearly states it can be recycled on the packaging. 

If you really want to reduce waste, you could ditch the paper altogether and use useful items, like new tea towels, to wrap gifts.

2. Make the most of leftovers

Food waste is mostly avoidable at Christmas (and any time) if you have a plan for what you’re going to do with those leftovers. A great tip is to check your freezer at the start of December and use up whatever is in there before Christmas Day. This will create much needed space for leftover ham, turkey, bread, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. Make sure you know how to freeze Christmas leftovers. For any food you’re not going to eat or freeze, consider composting it. Learn about composting at home.

3. DIY Christmas cards

Just like wrapping paper, many bought cards can’t be recycled because they have glitter or foil in the design. When you’re buying cards check to make sure the cards themselves and the packaging they come in can both be recycled. Alternatively, make your own Christmas cards and use only upcycled or recyclable materials in your designs.

4. Know your Christmas tree decorations

A lot of Christmas ornaments and decorations aren’t recyclable but they are reusable year after year so make sure you store them carefully. When you’re getting new ornaments for the tree, buy sustainable Christmas tree decorations made from recycled materials or natural materials like wood

When you need to replace ornaments, it’s also a good idea to make your own Christmas decorations from recycled materials or natural ingredients. Tinsel, for example, can’t be recycled and, while it will serve you for many years, a popcorn garland or an orange garland made with dehydrated orange and cinnamon sticks are both good biodegradable options.

 5. Make Christmas shortcuts recyclable

We’re all for easy shortcuts at this time of year – just make sure any foil trays, paper plates and disposable cutlery you purchase can be recycled. Ordinary paper plates can go in the yellow kerbside bins as long as they don’t have a plastic coating (check the packaging) and don’t have too much food left on them. Generally, bamboo plates can’t go in the recycling, but again check the packaging. Plastic cutlery is a definite no for recycling as it will contaminate the sorting machine.


6. Know what goes in the yellow bin

Did you know aluminium foil can be recycled? It just has to be shaped into a ball the size of a fist or bigger. That means items like the foil lids from yoghurt and cream containers, the alfoil used to cover resting meat and the foil tray you cooked the ham in on the barbie can all be recycled. The foil can’t be too dirty, though, so rinse off any residual food before pressing all the foil together into a ball shape and tossing it in the yellow bin.

Other random items you need to know about? Corks can’t go in the yellow kerbside bin because they generally contain plastic. Broken glasses and crockery are generally a no to recycling. Christmas baubles are, again, usually a no, but check the packaging or make recycled DIY Christmas decorations so you can be sure.

7. What counts as e-waste

Batteries of all kinds are considered to be e-waste and definitely can’t go in any of your home bins (red or yellow). They need to be dropped off at participating stores for appropriate recycling and handling. Broken Christmas lights are also e-waste. Try fixing them first but if that fails go to your council's website to find e-waste collection points.