The Three R's to a Sustainable Holiday Cleanup: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Did someone say empty wine bottles...

Minka M.
ByMinka M.

It might not be as intense as an annual spring cleaning, but a post-holiday cleanup is a great way to embrace a fresh start to a new year. While the holidays might be merry, the extra waste that is created during the holiday season isn’t.

Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year. That amounts to 25 trillion tons of garbage. Ouch. This year we’re committing to three R’s for our sustainable holiday cleanup—reuse, reduce and recycle—here's how you can join us!

Recycle Your Christmas Tree
Ever wonder what happens to the tree that brought you so much joy once the holiday season is over? Well, each year 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. While you can’t chuck your tree in the recycle bin with your bottles and milk carton, you can recycle it. Earth911 makes it easy to find the nearest spot to part ways with your beloved tree, all you have to do is enter your zip code. Whether you’re dropping off your tree or having it picked up, remember to remove all ornaments and other decorations from the tree beforehand.

Recycle Gift Packaging
Wrapping paper—it’s all in the name, right? Paradoxically, the stuff we use to wrap our gifts is often not made of paper, but foil and thin plastic coating, making it unrecyclable. If you went a little overboard this year and bought too much wrapping paper, simply save it for next year or use the Recycling Search to find out if your city offers disposal points for your festive left-over wrappings.

As for boxes, the most common gift and delivery boxes are made from cardboard that can be easily recycled. If, however, the boxes contain styrofoam materials, you can bring them to your local post office where they will gladly take them off your hands for reuse.

Reduce Food Waste
Christmas trees and excess gift packing are harmful to the environment as is, but the number one component found in America’s landfills is food waste. It’s reported that during the holidays Americans throw away 40 million pounds of food annually, with an average of 270,000 tons wasted just during Christmas. With that said, if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, let composting be it. Simply gather your scraps from your holiday dinners and go to Literless to see where the nearest drop-off location is in your state. If you’re low on time, or just too cold to leave your place, companies like Bootstrap Compost and Black Earth Compost will pick up food scraps straight from your doorstep.

If composting isn’t really your thing, you can still preserve what’s left by packaging it up and throwing them in freezer, or creating a yummy spinoff recipe using your leftovers. 

Reuse Empty Wine Bottles
Let’s face it, a good celebration doesn’t exist without a good bottle of wine. All wine bottles come in different hues, shapes and sizes that make them versatile. If you find yourself with one, or many empty wine bottles after the holidays, use them to make practical items for your home such as a mini garden or a handmade candle. If you’re feeling crafty, these DIY projects using upcycled wine bottles and corks are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

If you’re ready to throw away your empty bottles, remember to put them in a recycle bin. You can leave the label and foil on, but don’t forget to remove metal caps and wine corks before tossing!

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Cleaning products often include harmful ingredients such as ammonia and bleach, and release toxic chemicals like volatile organic compounds. If you don’t know what at least one of these things are, you probably shouldn’t be using products that are made from them. When this year’s post-holiday cleanup comes around, opt-in for natural products that are eco-friendly, and most importantly, you-friendly. From anti-bacterial all-purpose cleaners to natural stain removers, eco-friendly brands like Method Home, Mrs. Meyer’s and PUR Home offer the great household cleaning products that are safe for the environment and your family.


Ditch Store-Bought Air Fresheners for Homemade Potpourri
The amount of chemicals that we bring into our home from purchasing air fresheners is staggering, especially during winters months following the holidays. Start 2021 with an organic potpourri made from food stubs like apples, citrus, cloves, cinnamon sticks and aromatic spices. Cut up your favorite fruit, add spices and water, throw it on the stovetop and let it simmer. Voila, you’ve got your perfect post-holiday scent.


♻️ Let us know if you'll be following the three R's for your holiday cleanup this season! ♻️

About the Author
Minka M.
Minka M.
A writer writing things on Influenster.