News & Events

Holiday Recycling: Reducing the Impact of Your Celebrations

Author: Aaron Young, Sustainability Planning Manager, East-West Gateway Council of Governments

The Holidays are a time of joy and celebrating. But along with the parties and gift giving and decorating comes an abundance of waste. With a bit of planning, you can reduce the impact of your Holiday celebrations.
Let’s start with food. We don’t eat that healthy during this season, but we do eat a lot. We also throw a lot of food away. Remember to make (and keep to) shopping lists and be prepared to save and store leftovers. Check out earthday365’s page on reducing food waste. They have tips on reducing waste to begin with as well as composting. Also, if you become a member of earthday365 you get acces to free compost drop off.
And then there’s the decorations. One of the most troublesome items are string lights. String lights are recyclable, but they are NOT recyclable through your city or county recycling system. You have to look for special holiday light collection drives. Christmas trees are also in abundance during and after…yes…Christmas. The sheer volume of trees can overwhelm waste collection services. Keep your artificial trees well cared for so they last for years. If live trees are your preference, look for special collection events in January. A list for this season’s drop off locations can be seen here.
The next item in our Holiday Recycling Reminder is gift wrapping paper. Most wrapping paper is recyclable in your city or county recycling system, however, wrapping paper that has foil embedded in it is not recyclable. Unfortunately it’s just trash unless you can remove it from the gifts carefully and use it another year.

The last item in our Holiday Recycling Reminder includes all those unwanted gifts and out-grown items. If you are thinking about donating items to a thrift or resale store, they don’t want broken or rundown items. They can only resell things that are of-value, so don’t “wish-cycle” with your old clothes and toys. Only donate items that are in good shape. If you have other things that you would like to try and recycle, visit St. Louis City Recycles recycling database and search for locations that take all sorts of items. It may say St. Louis City, but the database is good for the entire St. Louis area.