Holiday Recycling: Give Seasonal Packaging, Trees, and Goods a Second Life

Your online holiday purchases have likely started coming in. That means lots of boxes and packing material like packaging peanuts, air pillows, and Kraft paper cluttering your home. And there's more on the way! Here are some recycling tips for pre- and post-holiday cleanup.


You can reuse boxes to ship, but only do so if a box is like new. The more times a box is used, the less rigid it becomes, and up to 70 percent less protective. So make sure the box is in condition with no punctures, tears, rips, or corner damage, and with all flaps intact. Additionally, remove old labels and completely blot out markings like bar codes and old addresses with a black marker. Your box could get rerouted to a different destination if a scanner reads old information. If a box isn't fit for shipping, you can reuse it to wrap holiday gifts to be given in person or break it down and take it to your nearest recycling center.

Holiday Shipping Resources

Packaging Materials

Packaging peanuts. Participating locations of The UPS Store® accept clean foam packaging peanuts of all sizes, shapes, and colors for reuse. Contact The UPS Store location nearest you for additional information.

Air pillows. Some recycling centers accept air pillows and bubble wrap, provided that the plastic has been deflated. Call your nearest recycling center to find out if they accept these plastics, as well as plastic grocery and shopping bags.

Kraft paper. Crumpled paper makes good cushioning material when shipping, so consider saving Kraft paper for reuse. If you have too much already, you can recycle it with cardboard. If it's too weathered to endure the rigors of shipping, you can also compost it.

Christmas Trees

Put your tree to good use after the holidays. Chip it to use as mulch around shrubs and flowerbeds or, if you have a live tree, plant it in the yard or donate it to a local school or nursing home to plant on their grounds. You can also check local resources for instructions on recycling options, drop-off locations, or pickup dates.

Donate to Charity

Start the new year with a clean slate. Take this time each year to donate to local charities any unwanted gifts along with last year's toys, clothes, or electronics that are still in good shape.

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