Recycling Christmas Items and Leftovers

by Frugal Brian

gift wraps

Remember growing up and discovering each Christmas was fun and festive with lots of great gifts? Each gift was wrapped carefully (mostly by Mom) using plenty of brightly colored gift wrap. The presents had been placed under the tree either days before or on Christmas Eve depending on family tradition. In any case those lovely gifts, painstakingly and lovingly wrapped, were destined to be speedily destroyed by the recipients the moment permission was given to begin unwrapping. End result was always a huge mess that required Dad to come in with plastic bags and gather up all the waste paper (no longer festive wrappings). He would then carry it out; being careful no presents were included. There was so much waste on the morning after Christmas that those who dispose of trash (garbage men) proclaimed it to be the biggest trash day of the entire year!

Many uses for “seasonal leftovers”

In this day of careful recycling and reusing many items that were previously thrown away or burned to simply eliminate them, we find ourselves in a dilemma. How much of all this refuse is actually useful once it’s been used for its original purpose? Well the answer is a whole lot of it can be reclaimed, recycled, and used again and again. Any paper or wood products that can be used over will save trees and help keep our planet greener. Wood, metal, glass, and plastic are all reusable items and by reclaiming them we save money as well as keep our planet less polluted. Basically any item that is recyclable will require far less energy to bring it to life again than was required for the original product. Let’s look at some uses for items that can be reused:

1)     Wood has many uses and may require some careful handling when disassembling parts from each other. Depending on the expected “new life” for wooden items it may help to take them apart with care. Wood can be “chipped” and reformed into a wide variety of items such as pressed wood to make furniture and flooring. Wood can be turned into pellets and used as mulch for landscaping. If the items are beyond hope they may simply be used as firewood to warm your home. Paper has a more limited lifecycle due to its fragile nature. But many items find their way back into service as recycled paper products, just look at labels. Newspaper and other paper items are by far the most commonly recycled materials at about eighty percent.

2)     Metal items are among the most durable of all man made items and the uses for leftover or recycled metal are enormous. From old cars to tin or aluminum cans it all has a purpose in it’s “after life”. Metals are melt-able and that makes it possible to reform it into many other useful items. Much energy is saved, resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gasses and emissions which were used to make original items from virgin ores. Ninety two percent of aluminum can be reused. Ninety percent of copper is recyclable and that results in big savings. At least fifty percent of other metals has been found to be reusable. For each ton of steel reclaimed and reused we save well over a ton of iron ore plus over one hundred pounds of limestone and nearly fifteen hundred pounds of coal. Aluminum reuse conserves some eight times its weight in bauxite ore plus many hours of electricity taken up by the manufacture of aluminum parts originally. In other words these metals each contribute to saving our planet and creatively making many new items for use in the years to come.

3)     Glass can easily be reconstituted into many useful objects, also made of glass. It is basically sand or soda ash, also limestone may contribute to the basic ingredients of glass products. Those Christmas balls and lights are most likely now made from recycled glass of some sort.

4)     Plastic has long been a popular recyclable item because it melts down so easily, making many more items which can also be reclaimed when their life expectancy has been reached. Those plastic soda pop bottles can be “born again” as plastic furniture such as tables or chairs. Depending on the type of plastic involved some work better than others when reconstituted. As many do not realize how beneficial it is to find new uses for plastic items it remains one of the least to be recycled, at some twenty five percent.

Think of your Christmas gifts and wrappings as being part of the future gifting you will do for many years to come, then buy accordingly. We each need to think of the future of our planet while we enjoy it now.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: