With Christmas just round the corner, getting into the festive spirit isn’t the only thing on our minds at the moment. Here at Fushi, we believe it’s important to think sustainably this holiday season. Christmas cards are a great way to show our family and friends we care, but what happens to them after the 25th? Instead of letting them contribute to your January waste, find out how you can recycle Christmas cards to be a bit more green this year. We’ll also fill you in on where to recycle your Christmas cards and which cards can’t be recycled.
Can you recycle Christmas cards?
Generally, yes. Plain cards made purely from paper can definitely be recycled. However not all Christmas cards are made the same, which means that not all of them can be recycled. It all comes down to what materials have been used to decorate them.
Cards with glitter or glitter embellishments cannot be recycled. This is because standard glitter particles are made from a type of microplastic, which can be incredibly harmful to our environment and ecosystems. If you’ve ever washed glitter off your hands, chances are that the glitter found its way to the ocean. There, it causes a huge problem for marine life as many fish, plankton and birds can end up consuming the microscopic glitter particles.
If microplastic builds up in their system, it can lead to starvation. What’s more, the microplastic can even end up contaminating the food chain and onto our plates, as the microplastics can accumulate in the animal products that we eat.
Other craft materials that can’t be recycled are:
Gift wrap ribbons and bows
If your Christmas cards have any of these materials on, carefully remove them so that you can still recycle the paper part. Place any decorative bits that can’t be recycled in your waste bin. If you have a battery powered card, remember to remove the battery, speakers and any other electronic parts. Then dispose of the battery correctly. Often, the back part of cards are just made from paper, so it’s usually safe to cut off the front part and recycle the back. And don’t forget about your envelopes too!
How to recycle your Christmas cards
If you’d like to recycle your Christmas cards how you’d usually recycle your waste paper, that’s absolutely fine. Just be sure to read our tips above for removing any harmful components first. However, if you like the look of your cards and want to put them to another use, we’ve come up with a list of our favourite ways to reuse and recycle your Christmas cards. Many cards are well made and use quality materials, making them perfect to use for crafting. Take a look at what you can transform them into below.
This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose your old cards. Carefully cut the picture, or decorative parts that you want to use, into a gift tag shape. For a more precise and neat cut, trace around an old gift tag first so that you have a stencilled outline to follow. Punch a hole into your new gift tag using a hole puncher and attach onto your gifts with some pretty string. You could even reuse string or ribbon from your presents last year!
Create Christmas-themed paper chains
Get your home into the holiday spirit by making paper chains out of your old Christmas cards. Remove the front of your card and recycle the back so that you’re left with the decorative side that you can turn into chains. Use a measuring tape or ruler to mark out strips at your desired width. Cut them out and loop them together how you would when creating a regular paper chain. To secure them, we’d recommend using a stapler to keep the ends together. This is because they’re more effective than glue, and also because they’re easy to remove if you want to dispose of your chains afterwards. Once you’ve removed the staples, you can recycle any of the chains that don’t contain any harmful materials.
Make Christmas-themed bunting
If paper chains aren’t your style, why not try your hand at creating Christmas-themed bunting instead? Reuse your old Christmas cards by cutting the front, decorative part into shapes. Triangles are classic but why not get creative with Christmas tree, snowman or other festive shapes? Use a stencil before cutting them out so that they’re all uniform. Create holes in your shapes using a hole puncher, thread them onto some string and hang. It’s that simple!
Turn them into next year’s Christmas cards
Another great way to recycle your old cards is to make new ones out of them. Gather your favourite cards and cut out your favourite parts from each card. It might be a picture, the writing or even a pattern from the background. Feel free to customise them before cutting them down to size, and then stick them onto a blank card. All that’s left to do is write your message inside.
Make a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle
Want to reuse your cards for something that your younger ones can enjoy? Why not turn the front, decorative side of a card into a jigsaw puzzle? Cut it up into jigsaw piece-sized shapes for a colourful Christmas puzzle.
Turn them into Christmas-tree ornaments
You can create quaint little festive baubles using your old cards, some staples and a bit of string. We’ll tell you how. Using a glass, trace a circle onto the decorative part of your cards. Cut them out so you’re left with lots of evenly-sized circles. You’ll need around 20 circles.
Then, on scrap paper, cut out the same sized circle. On your scrap paper circle, use a ruler to draw an equilateral triangle. The triangle should take up as much of the circle as possible, with its points touching the circumference on the circle. Once you have your triangle, cut it out.
Use the scrap paper triangle to trace a triangle on the back of each of the Christmas card circles you cut out before. Score and fold the lines of the triangles, bending the front of each card inwards. You should be left with lots of triangles with flaps on each edge. Do not cut these flaps off completely as they’ll be used to attach each circle together.
Staple the flap of one circle onto the flap of another circle. As you do this, the fold in each of the circles should be touching each other. Essentially, all of the folded triangles will tessellate together to create a sphere shape. As you attach your last triangle, staple a loop of string into place along with the card so that you have a way to hang your ornament onto your tree.
Upcycle your cards into place settings
Get some use from last year’s cards by using the inside, or any plain parts of the card, as scrap paper. Cut the blank bits of card out and decorate them to turn them into place cards for next year’s Christmas! Paint, draw or ink your guests names onto the card and add a festive touch with a pretty stamp.
Cut them into festive bookmarks
If Christmas card decorations aren’t your thing, how about turning your old Christmas cards into something more practical? Cut out strips of your favourite Christmas cards from years gone by and craft them into bookmarks. Punch a hole in them with a hole puncher, attach some ribbon or string to them and voila! Perfect to use for reading your favourite Christmas book.
Where to recycle christmas cards
So you’ve got your Christmas cards or Christmas card scraps that you can recycle, but where do you recycle them?
Interested in more sustainable lifestyle, health and beauty tips? Check out our blog for more ideas.