1. Recycle stamps
Think an old stamp is worthless? Think again. Send your used stamps to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who will transform them into urgently-needed funds to help people with sight loss access the information, support and advice they need. They ask only that you leave at least half a centimetre of envelope around the stamp to prevent damage. Find out more on the RNIB website.
2. Recycle Christmas cards
If you just want to get rid of them, you can pop your Christmas cards into specially-designated recycling bins at a number of supermarkets. Alternatively, check if your local council makes a kerbside collection around Christmas time. If you’re a creative type you can upcycle old Christmas cards by turning them into new ones – and it makes a fun and easy craft project to do with your grandchildren.
Linda Smith, a former textiles designer, has been making cards for friends and family with her eight-year-old granddaughter for a few years now.
Setting aside a wintry afternoon, accompanied by carols and mince pies, the two carefully cut around cheerful robins, twinkly cottages and the like, and glue them onto red or green card to make unique new cards.
“Craft shops sell plain green or red folded cards with matching envelopes,” says Linda. “I also buy little foam sticky pads to raise the images and make them 3D. It makes the images more versatile, as you can layer images and mix genres.”
If you’re worried about a little one wielding a sharp pair of scissors, you could pre-cut the images - and even pre-apply the glue.
For a simpler version of this craft project, why not cut up old Christmas cards to make gift tags for next year’s presents?
3. Recycle wrapping paper
The Recycle Now website - www.recyclenow.com - advises checking your local authority’s website to see if it can accept wrapping paper. If it does, you can put it in the bags or boxes provided for kerbside collection, or take it to the recycling bank.
However, they caution that some types of paper that contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver-coloured shapes, glitter or plastic can’t be recycled at all, and neither can wrapping paper with lots of sticky tape still attached to it.
4. Recycle your Christmas tree
Its twinkling branches graced your home for 12 nights, but once the festive period is over, along with the rich foods and Christmas jumpers, the tree has got to go.
Gardening writer Martyn Cox, writes: “After Christmas, strip off the decorations from cut trees and take it to your local tip or garden centre collection point, where it will chipped up to make compost or mulch.
Alternatively, check to see whether your council offers a tree collection service. Container-grown trees have a good chance of establishing in the garden, as long as they have not been kept inside for too long.”
5. Recycle Christmas boxes
It’s a truism that little children often like to play with the box more than the toy it once contained, but an empty cardboard box holds little allure for us less-playful adults. Some local authorities will recycle your cardboard boxes for you – or why not ring round your local nurseries to ask if they would like them for craft projects?