Find Posts By Topic

Recycle Your Holidays

Now that Christmas has passed, we bet you’re looking around at wrapping paper, bows, bubble wrap, and even your Christmas tree thinking, “Wait a minute, what do I do with all of this stuff?” We’ve got you covered. Find out how to recycle or reuse common holiday items below.



All types of batteries are accepted at the recycling and reuse building at the North Transfer Station. Household Hazardous Waste facilities accept alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9v) for recycling. Alkaline batteries may also go in the garbage. Find out what to do with other types of batteries using Seattle Public Utilities’ Where Does It Go tool.

Bubble Wrap:
Reused bubble wrap is great for mailing gifts or storing fragile items. If you can’t reuse it, bubble wrap can go in your home recycling container, but please bundle it together in a tied plastic bag before you toss it in the cart.

Updating your wardrobe this holiday season? Don’t trash old clothes. Threadcycle them! Ripped, worn, and stained clothes and linens, heavily worn shoes, and “singles” of items (like socks) are accepted for reuse or recycling by many local organizations—as long as they are not wet, mildewed, or contaminated with hazardous materials. Learn more about Seattle Public Utilities and King County’s Threadcycle program here.

Drop off electronics at the recycling and reuse building at the North Transfer Station. Other options include recycling electronics at a Take it Back Network, or at E-Cycle Washington locations.

Gift Wrap:
Do you meticulously open gifts, or is a tearing frenzy more of your style? If the former—most wrapping paper can be recycled in your home recycling container. A little tape is fine, but remove the big pieces. If the later—collect small pieces (less than 3 inches) in a paper bag, fold the bag closed, then recycle the filled bag. Foil or plastic gift wrap goes in the garbage. Tissue paper is recyclable.

Greeting Cards and Envelopes:
Like normal cards and envelopes, holiday cards printed with pine trees, sleigh bells, and snowmen can be recycled in your curbside container.

Holiday Lights:
Burned-out string lights (or old lights that you’ve replaced with energy-efficient LED lights) can be recycled. Holiday light recycling programs take your old light strands and recycle the copper wire inside them. Check online for locations.

Packing Peanuts:
Foam packing peanuts are not recyclable, but they are reusable. Many gift stores or shipping centers will accept clean packing peanuts free of charge to reuse in packaging or shipping.

Ribbons and Bows:
Save these to use again. Ribbons and bows that aren’t reusable go in the garbage.

Trees and Holiday Greens:
Seattle residents can put their Christmas trees and holiday greens out next to their food and yard waste carts on their regular collection day at no extra charge from Dec. 26, 2017 – Jan. 31, 2018. At apartments, one tree may be placed next to each food and yard waste cart each collection day. Seattle residents can also drop off holiday trees and greens for free at Seattle Public Utilities’ Transfer Stations from Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 31, 2018 (up to 3 trees per vehicle).
Please read about requirements before composting your tree.

For more information on how to recycle or dispose of  other items, visit one of the following: