Recycling charitably at Christmas

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Posted by HIPPO

Giving presents and being with your loved one are the essential parts of Christmas. It's also the time we're at our most thoughtful and giving, reflecting on all that we're lucky enough to hold dear. This blog will run you through ways to make your Christmas as charitable and waste-free as possible.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper is often highly difficult to recycle, and is generally not reusable after it's first go - especially if you have children! 

Glitter, lamination and materials other than paper being mixed in make it difficult to separate the waste streams for correct recycling. Having bits of cello-tape still attached complicates things further.

The best thing to do when there's not a good way to recycle an item is to use an alternative - but don't worry! You don't need to give up nice, colourful wrapping paper for your gifts. Companies like Re-wrapped craft fantastic gift wrap from recycled materials in a way that means they can be reclaimed again and again.

christmas presents under the tree

Old toys

There are plenty of ways to get old, unwanted toys that have been replaced at Christmas to charitable causes - and even more incredible ideas are around as organisations think up creative ways to attract donations for Christmas. 

If your toys are in good condition or you want to send new ones to children who need them, that's relatively simple. Just find your local charity shop or children's charity and make your donation. What's much harder is making sure toys that have passed their best are recycled correctly.

Toys are often constructed from multiple materials, tightly fused together so as not to harm the children they're designed for. Taking them apart to separate in to recyclable waste streams can prove difficult, so most councils don't want to collect toys as part of their scheduled waste collections, and don't accept them at recycling centres either. 

Your best bet is to make sure they get to a specialist waste transfer station like those used by HIPPO. These facilities have the specialist equipment to separate tricky items and give old toys the best chance of being fully, properly recycled.

boy playing with old toys that could be recycled

Old clothes

Unwrapped some nice new threads at Christmas and need to make space in your wardrobe? You can easily find your local textile recycling bank or, if your clothes are in good condition, donate them to your local charity shop.

Recycling for clothing items is at a sophisticated stage and you can make sure your clothes are disposed of in the best way with relative ease.

If you have items that you think would be of real help to those who need some extra warmth during the winter months, you can contact local soup kitchens to make sure your discarded cosy jumpers and big coats get to people who really need them. Just make sure you give them a good wash first!

pile of old clothes ready to be recycled 

Christmas tree

Though they certainly add to the festive atmosphere, Christmas trees don't have much practical use for charity donations - but you can make sure they are disposed of properly!

A real Christmas tree is unbeatable - but you'll need a new one every year and that means disposing of each one when the decorations come down. 

If you're feeling creative or have green fingers, check out this great list of ways to recycle a Christmas tree yourself, including making firewood and edging your garden.

HIPPO will collect your Christmas entirely free with any HIPPOBAG collection. Just take a quick look at the T&C's before booking your collection. 

family picking out christmas tree from field

Food waste 

If your Christmas gatherings are anything like ours, there's always plenty of food - too much, in fact! The Express’ article ‘Low-waste Christmas Dinner: How to avoid wasting food at Christmas’ highlights that food waste in the UK increases by 30% during the festive period with the equivalent of 4.2 million dinners going straight into the bin. 

Of course, the easiest way to reduce waste is to buy less in the first place - but this is easier said than done when you're hosting your family and want everyone to be festively full and merry. 

You could put the family through the "How-Many-Ways-Can-We-Cook-This-Turkey" challenge in the days following Christmas, OR you could do something amazing with your untouched leftovers. Charities like FoodCycle rely on donations from people who have plenty. You can either host a dinner for the less fortunate in your area or donate to one of the meals the charity hosts themselves.

family enjoying christmas dinner with enough for leftovers


The most precious of commodities can often get overlooked when you're thinking about what not to waste. At Christmas, it's your time that counts. Whether it's time picking out a thoughtful gift and carefully wrapping it, time preparing Christmas dinner or just time sitting around playing a game of Monopoly that doesn't see it's conclusion, being with your loved ones is the ultimate goal of Christmas.

You're likely to discover you've got a lot of things to throw away this Christmas. Don't let it eat in to your quality time.

If you find your list of places to visit to make sure your waste is recycled properly growing ever longer, remember there's a way to have it all removed right from your home by recycling experts. A HIPPOBAG can deal with all of the above (except food waste) and dozens of other unwanted items besides. 

family spending quality time together at christmas