The art of post-holiday recycling

We can now heave a sigh of relief: no more holiday feasts to whip up, no more parties to go to, no more crazy Christmas shopping downtown, and no more gifts to wrap and distribute. Thank goodness, the Yuletide madness is finally over.

With the hectic holidays still fresh in our minds, the question is, have you been wise in handling some stuff you’ve purchased or have received by default last Christmas? Have you done any recycling at all in the name of good stewardship?

If yes, then well and good. If not, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your post-holiday habits and be less wasteful. It’s not yet too late to learn from the economical ways of our wise grandmothers, who had gone through a lot during the Depression era.

Here are some general post-holiday recycling tips, courtesy of Freitag:

• Gather all your leftover Christmas paper items. Put all the used (as long as they are still in good condition) and unused gift wraps, tags, cards, bows and ribbons all in one storage box and label it well, so that when the next Christmastime arrives, you’ll know where to get those holiday paper goods. By the way, the key to recycling used gift wraps is to open your gifts carefully the next time you receive a present from somebody; and not just carelessly tearing up those nice, colorful gift wraps as tradition dictates. Then fold neatly those used gift wraps and put in your to-be-recycled Christmas storage box. Teach your kids to do this, too. It will save you a lot of paper — and money.

• Keep those boxes. Whether they are shoeboxes (maybe you received a pair of shoes last Christmas), shipment boxes, or carton gift boxes, make sure you just don’t throw them away. Boxes are always good for storing things up — stuff like used Christmas tree ornaments (see related tip number one), photos, postcards, and electronic items. Plus, you can also recycle these boxes when you need to wrap up a present on any occasion (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.). Or if you are an active Ebay seller, these boxes will come in handy every time you need to ship items locally or internationally. So, keep those boxes!

• Keep those tin cans and glass jars, too. The same principle applies here. Tin cars and glass jars, just like boxes, make great containers. So don’t discard those Christmas tin cans and glass jars. You can use tin cans for storing food items like cookies, candies, or tea bags. And depending on the shape of the actual tin can, you can even use it as a sewing kit, why not? As for the glass jars, they can be resused to preserve homemade jams, pickles, and yes, halo halo ingredients.

• Reuse shopping bags. Again the same principle: keep those used shopping bags, whether they are made of plastic or paper, and reuse them. For what? For shopping! Every time you go to the supermarket, bring a used shopping bag to carry your groceries. Paper shopping bags can be recycled as gifts wraps, too. Just cut them up and wrap your present in them. It’s art for practical art’s sake. Just make sure the quality of the shopping bag is still good, though — not overly crumpled or anything like that. Plastic shopping bags, meanwhile, can be used again when you are giving a present to a family member or friend whom you are going to meet outside on a rainy or wintry day. It protects the paper-wrapped gift inside.

• Use those greetings cards as future Christmas decors. Okay, maybe you have not really received a deluge of physical Christmas cards in your mailbox last December in the advent of e-cards. But if you have, well, don’t trash them as some practical (read: non-sentimental) people do. You can recycle them later on as Christmas decors. For instance, you can string them together and, voila, you have an instant Christmas festoon — and a personalized one at that. Or you can simply decorate your Christmas tree or your mantle with a well-chosen set of greeting cards come Christmastime. You will save yourself a lot of money by doing this. No need to buy anymore those fragile silver or golden balls and glitter string decors that are not that cheap actually.

• ‘Regift’ unused and unwanted Christmas presents. If you have received some Christmas gifts that you do not really need (maybe because you already have it, or simply because it does not fit your lifestyle) — e.g. receiving a perfume you’re allergic to or getting a blouse that’s not your size — and therefore can’t use, then you can give them (presents) to somebody else. Just make sure that the items are in great condition and usable, and that the person you are giving it to is not in any way related to the giver. And yes, some people do take such unwanted presents to what they call the White Elephant Gift Exchange.

This post-holiday recycling list is by no means comprehensive. There are still tons of things you can do to reuse stuff and not letting them go to waste. You just need to let those creative juices flow freely.

With the global financial downturn, we all need to be extra wise in handling all our resources. Learn a thing or two from Grandma.

So, guys, let’s use the R word more often these days: recycle, recycle, recycle!