Deck the Halls and Recycle: Unveiling the Secrets of Christmas Card Recycling

August 29, 2021 in environment, recycling

Article summary and Key takeaways: Christmas cards can be recycled, but there are factors to consider such as glitter, foil accents, and non-paper components. Glitter is not recyclable and should be removed before recycling the cards. Foil or metallic accents may or may not be accepted by recycling centers. Cards with plastic or non-paper components should be disposed of in the regular trash. Recycling centers and programs, as well as online resources, can help find places to recycle Christmas cards. Used cards can also be donated to organizations for various purposes. Photo cards can be recycled if they don’t have non-recyclable components. Repurposing options for photo cards include bookmarks, gift tags, and art pieces. Charitable organizations accept donated cards for fundraising and crafting projects. Non-recyclable cards should be disposed of in the regular trash. It’s important to recycle what you can and properly dispose of non-recyclable items to minimize waste and protect the environment.

Christmas cards are a staple during the holiday season, but what happens to them once the festivities are over? Many people wonder if they can recycle their Christmas cards, and if so, how to go about it. In this article, we will explore the importance of recycling Christmas cards, whether or not they can be recycled, where to recycle them, and alternative options for disposal. We will also discuss what to do with old Christmas photo cards and where to donate used cards. So let’s dive in and find out the best ways to handle those holiday greetings!

Can you recycle Christmas cards?

When it comes to recycling Christmas cards, the good news is that most of them can be recycled. The majority of Christmas cards are made from paper, which is a recyclable material. However, there are a few factors to consider before tossing them in the recycling bin.

1. Glitter and other embellishments

One common feature of Christmas cards is glitter, which adds a touch of sparkle and festivity. Unfortunately, glitter is not recyclable. It is made from small pieces of plastic that can contaminate the recycling process and end up in the environment. Therefore, if your Christmas cards have glitter or other non-recyclable embellishments like ribbons or bows, it’s best to remove them before recycling the cards.

2. Foil or metallic accents

Another factor to consider is the presence of foil or metallic accents on the cards. While some recycling centers accept cards with foil or metallic accents, others may not. It’s best to check with your local recycling center or program to see if they accept these types of cards. If they don’t, you can remove the foil or metallic parts and recycle the rest of the card.

3. Plastic or non-paper components

Some Christmas cards may have plastic or non-paper components, such as plastic windows or attachments. These cards are not recyclable and should be disposed of in the regular trash. It’s important to separate these cards from the recyclable ones to avoid contamination.

Where to recycle Christmas cards

Now that you know what to look for in recyclable Christmas cards, the next step is to find a place to recycle them. Here are a few options:

A. Local recycling centers and programs

Most communities have recycling centers or programs that accept paper products, including Christmas cards. These centers often have designated bins or drop-off locations where you can deposit your cards. Check with your local municipality or waste management department for more information on recycling options in your area.

B. Online resources for finding recycling options

If you’re having trouble finding a local recycling center, there are online resources available to help. Websites like Earth911 and Recycling Near You allow you to search for recycling options by zip code or location. Simply enter your information, and they will provide you with a list of nearby recycling centers that accept paper products.

C. Donation options for used Christmas cards

If your cards are in good condition and you don’t want to recycle them, you can donate them to organizations that can put them to good use. Some charitable organizations, nursing homes, or schools may accept donated cards for various purposes, such as crafting projects or sending them to those in need. It’s best to contact these organizations beforehand to find out if they have specific requirements or preferences for donated cards.

Can you recycle Christmas cards with glitter?

As mentioned earlier, glitter is not recyclable due to its plastic composition. This poses a challenge when it comes to recycling Christmas cards with glitter. In most cases, cards with glitter should be treated as non-recyclable items. However, there are alternative options for disposing of glittery cards.

A. Challenges of recycling cards with glitter

The biggest challenge with recycling cards with glitter is the risk of contaminating the recycling process. Glitter can easily detach from the cards and mix with other recyclable materials, making it difficult to separate and process. To avoid this contamination, it’s best to remove the glitter before recycling the rest of the card.

B. Alternative options for disposing of glittery cards

If you have cards with glitter that you want to dispose of responsibly, there are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Reuse the cards for crafts or other creative projects.
  • Donate them to schools or organizations that use them for art activities.
  • Separate the glittery parts of the cards and dispose of them in the regular trash, while recycling the remaining paper components.

What to do with old Christmas photo cards

Christmas photo cards have become increasingly popular in recent years, featuring personal photos of families and loved ones. So what can you do with these photo cards once the holiday season is over?

A. Recycling options for photo cards

Photo cards can typically be recycled just like regular Christmas cards, as long as they don’t have non-recyclable components like glitter or plastic attachments. Remove the photos from the cards before recycling them, as the glossy photo paper is not recyclable.

B. Creative ways to repurpose photo cards

If you’re feeling creative, there are many ways to repurpose old photo cards. Here are a few ideas:

  • Turn them into bookmarks or gift tags.
  • Use them as decoration in scrapbooks or photo albums.
  • Cut out the images and frame them as small art pieces.
  • Combine multiple cards to create a personalized collage.

Where to donate used Christmas cards

If you have used Christmas cards that are still in good condition, donating them is a great way to give them a second life. Here are a few options for donation:

A. Charitable organizations that accept donated cards

Some charitable organizations collect used Christmas cards to support their causes. Organizations like St. Jude’s Ranch for Children and Cards for Hospitalized Kids accept donated cards and use them for various projects, including fundraising, crafting, and sending them to sick children. Check their websites for guidelines and instructions on how to donate your cards.

B. Guidelines for donating used cards

Before donating your used cards, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Ensure the cards are in good condition and suitable for reuse.
  • Remove any personal messages or sensitive information.
  • Follow the specific guidelines provided by the charitable organization regarding packaging and shipping.

Which Christmas cards cannot be recycled?

While many Christmas cards can be recycled, there are some types that are not recyclable. Here are a few examples:

A. Types of cards that are not recyclable

Cards with non-paper components like plastic windows, attachments, or electronic components are not recyclable. Additionally, cards with excessive glitter or metallic accents may not be accepted by all recycling centers. It’s best to check with your local recycling program to determine which cards can be recycled in your area.

B. Proper disposal methods for non-recyclable cards

If you have Christmas cards that cannot be recycled, the best way to dispose of them is in the regular trash. Separate these cards from your recyclables to avoid contamination. Remember, it’s important to recycle what you can and dispose of non-recyclable items properly to minimize waste and protect the environment.


Recycling Christmas cards is an important step in reducing waste and protecting the environment. While most Christmas cards can be recycled, it’s essential to consider factors like glitter, foil accents, and non-paper components. By removing non-recyclable elements and recycling the rest of the cards, you can ensure they have a second life as new paper products. If you’re unable to recycle your cards, there are alternative options like repurposing them or donating them to charitable organizations. Let’s make a conscious effort to recycle or repurpose our Christmas cards and spread holiday cheer while caring for the planet!

Question 1:
Answer: Old Christmas cards can be recycled or repurposed.

Question 2:
Answer: Christmas cards that have glitter, foil, or other non-paper materials cannot be recycled.

Question 3:
Answer: Old Christmas cards can be used for crafts, turned into gift tags, or donated to organizations that repurpose them.

Question 4:
Answer: Recycling options for Christmas cards in 2023 may vary depending on your location. Check with your local recycling center or municipality for specific information.


About the author 

Sam Martinez

Hello, I'm Sam. With a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Yale, I've dedicated my life to understanding and advocating for our natural world. My work has taken me from the halls of academia to the front lines of environmental activism. I'm thrilled to share stories from my journey, insights from my research, and ways we can all contribute to a healthier planet.