Christmas has come to an end. For many of us, all that’s left of the yuletide period is an expanded waistline, a plethora of cards and paper wrapping, old electricals made obsolete by the latest gadgets received as presents, and a slowly wilting tree. All four need to be disposed of, but how?


For the first, the advice of Michael Pollan is perhaps most apt, Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Out with the chocolate biscuits and brandy butter, and in with carrot sticks and hummus. Dry January is another option, switching from lager to diet coke and from wine to a glass of sparkling water with a slice of lime. A new exercise programme can also help; whether that be small things like taking the stairs instead of the lift, or bigger commitments such as a new gym membership (although most gym members lose more pounds sterling than pounds of weight!).

Christmas cards can mostly be recycled, unless they have glitter or foil decorations, in which case they need to go into general waste – the glitter can’t be recycled and can clog the machines used in the recycling process. Most wrapping can be recycled, but bows and any other embellishment should be removed to make sure they aren’t removed by sorters (as we learned on a recent visit to Veolia’s recycling centre).

Electronics can be recycled in a number of ways. A Google search will show a number of companies that will buy old electronics kit. If tech is too broken or too old for them, the local council should offer a recycling option – electronics waste should not be thrown into general waste.


And lastly, what to do with the grand old Christmas tree? If it’s synthetic, put it back in its box ready to be used next year. If it’s live, firstly remove all decorations to avoid the risk of ‘cut by bauble’ injuries occurring or decorations contaminating recycling streams. Many local councils offer tree recycling services, and information about this will be on their website. Or if the tree is still hale and hearty and has its roots, try planting it in the garden to see if it will grow. Or, for a ‘biblically inspired’ approach, try and use the carpentry skills of Jesus’ father, Joseph, to repurpose the tree as a bird box or a hedgehog hotel.

Happy New Year and happy recycling. If you think you might be a bit of a recycling wizard, come along in early February to play the Sustainability team’s recycling game in Sustainability Week.