Cutting down on Christmas waste

Like most things, your decorations can reach a point where they aren’t working or have passed their heyday. A number of these Christmas treasures can be recycled instead of ending up in landfills.

Using compostable materials to make your own Christmas decorations is a way of cutting waste. © ArtSys / AdobeStock

Tree lights

These can be recycled at household waste recycling centres along with electrical items. Recycle collection points in the area include Bonar Bridge and Lairg Recycling Centres. Items can be recycled if they have a plug, use batteries, need charging or have a picture of a crossed-out wheelie bin on them.


If it contains natural materials like holly, ivy or fir tree clippings, you can compost the greenery if it isn’t covered with glitter or glue. To start your own home compost, you can watch our composting video on our YouTube Page and follow our guide for building a pallet compost. The decorative parts of the wreath such as ribbons, plastic flowers or berries and the ring/base can be used again.

Tissue paper

Gift paper, paper chains, party hats, and paper streamers are usually made from very thin paper that does not contain many of the good fibres needed for recycling. These can be put into your home compost.


Glass baubles aren’t recyclable so if any of your glass baubles break, wrap them up carefully and put into your non-recycling bin. Plastic baubles are usually made from plastic not widely recycled in the UK and may be covered with glitter which would impact on the recycling process so should also be placed in the bin.


This is not recyclable. If you can no longer use your tinsel it needs to be thrown away and will need to go into your non-recycling bin. One of our staff members uses tinsel that is no longer suitable for the tree as bird scarers for their fruit bushes!

Real tree

Trees that are locally grown have less associated carbon emissions, for example from transport. If possible, buy a tree that you can plant and use again the next year. If planting it isn’t an option, compost where possible or take it to your local household recycling centre.

Artificial tree

Artificial trees that are well looked after and used for years can offset their higher carbon footprint. Due to the materials used, these are not recyclable. Once you are finished with the tree see if you can donate it to a charity shop or give it to a friend if it is still in good condition.

If you would like to cut down on the waste you can avoid plastic decorations, make your own or use compostable materials such as dried oranges and pinecones. For more information on reducing your carbon footprint and Lairg & District Learning Centre’s Season of Change project please contact the Project Officer Sarah Forrest at

by Rebecca Dunphy

Last Updated on 4 December, 2021 by Kyle Chronicle

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