Waste Not this Holiday Season: A Recycling Guide for NOLA


The holidays are a time of giving. We all love buying that perfect gift and wrapping it up for our loved ones to open it with surprise! But, we tend to create a lot of waste in the process.

From shipping boxes to wrapping paper to holiday decor, the season is one where trash cans and recycling bins overflow with materials. The good news: it doesn’t have to be this way!

We can all reduce the amount of waste we create without stomping on the holiday spirit. Here are some tips on how to:

  1. prevent waste (thus saving clean up time!), and

  2. what to do with the unavoidable remnants of the holidays.

Let’s get started…

Prevent Waste

One awesome way to prevent waste: reuse! It’s our mission and we love doing it creatively.

Image: Becky Luigart Stayner for  Southern Living

Image: Becky Luigart Stayner for Southern Living

Use newspaper, paper bags or book pages as gift wrap

Not only will you be reusing these materials, but you can recycle paper bags, newspaper and book pages in your curbside recycling when all is done.


Use natural fiber twine or rope for bows

A lot of holiday bows are made of plastic and are not recyclable. Opt for twine made with cotton, hemp or other natural fibers that can be reused or composted.

fabric tea towel wrap.jpg

Wrap gifts in fabric or tea towels

One of our favorite ideas is to wrap gifts with fun fabrics. Use scraps left over from projects, unneeded pillow cases, tea towels, scarves, blouses—you name it! Plus, if you use natural fibers like cotton, then the fabric can be composted when it’s time is up.


Ditch the wrap

Avoid the hassle of wrapping altogether and instead just use a recyclable paper gift tag to show off your great gifts!


Use what you have and keep what can be used again

Gift bags, bows and “glittery stuff” cannot be recycled, but they can be reused! Use last year’s and save this year’s for sustainable gift giving.


Recycle What You Can

Along with stopping waste before it’s created, you can recycle what you can!


Recycle Your Wrapping Paper

As long as it is not glittery, metallic or felt-like, wrapping paper can be recycled in your curbside recycling. Same goes for greeting cards—anything with sparkle (along with photo paper) should go in the trash, but the rest can be recycled.

Need curbside recycling in NOLA? Call 311.


Recycle Cardboard Boxes

It’s the era of shipping and with that comes lots of boxes. Break them down and put them in your curbside recycling bin. Note that toy boxes are a bit different. Plastic handles, zip ties and windows must first be removed and placed in the garbage before the cardboard can be recycled.

Need curbside recycling in NOLA? Call 311.


Recycle Broken Lights

Have broken lights? You can drop them off for recycling at the City of New Orleans Department of Sanitation 2nd & 4th Saturday Recycling Drop-Off Center. See the schedule here.

Have working lights that you just don’t need? Drop them off at the Green Project!


Give your Tree to Coastal Restoration

The City of New Orleans will collect trees on January 9th-12th for coastal restoration projects. Keep in mind:

  • Trees must be free of ornaments, lights and tinsel

  • Flocked and artificial trees cannot be accepted

See the full information, dates and times here.


Donate decor to the Green Project

Have usable decorations, gift wrap or artificial trees you no longer want or need? Donate them to the Green Project (Monday-Saturday, 9am-4pm).