How to Recycle, Repurpose or Upcycle Your Christmas Trees, Decorations & Cards

Source: Wokingham Borough Council’s Wokingham Borough Connect bulletin on 04-01-2023


Reuse, replant or recycle your Christmas tree

According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, between six and eight million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK every year. Unfortunately, a lot of them will be disposed of after the festive period. 


If you have a real Christmas tree

Replant or recycle your real Christmas tree, instead of throwing it away. 

If you have a Christmas tree with its roots still attached, replanting it is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. 

If your tree has no roots, recycle your tree using Wokingham Borough Council’s garden waste collection service. Simply cut the tree up and place the chippings in your brown bin or sack on your collection day. You may also take them to re3 household waste recycling centres in Reading or Bracknell.  

Alternatively, you can add the chippings to your compost bin or heap, if you have any. 

Remember to remove all tinsel and decorations and any pots or stands before recycling. 


If you have an artificial tree

Artificial trees are made from a combination of materials and therefore cannot be recycled.

Keep your artificial tree for future Christmases, which is one of the best ways to save money. 

If you can’t keep it for whatever reasons, see if any charity shops can accept it for re-sale or re-use, if it is still in good condition.


Recycle Christmas decorations right

First and foremost, unwanted decorations in good condition can be donated to charity shops for re-sale and re-use.


Baubles and tinsel

Plastic and glass baubles and tinsel are not recyclable, so should go in the general waste bin.

For broken glass baubles in particular, please wrap them before putting them in your blue rubbish bag.



Natural materials on wreaths, such as ivy, fir cones, mistletoe and holly, can be composted as long as they are not covered with excessive glitter.

Simply remove the greenery from the base and add to your garden or green waste collection, or drop them off at one of the re3 household waste recycling centres. Artificial decorations such as ribbons and plastic flowers will need to be removed as these cannot be recycled.


Fairy lights

If your fairy lights don’t work any more, they can be recycled with small electricals at re3 household waste recycling centres


Don’t throw away Christmas cards

Are you thinking of what to do with your Christmas cards? Before binning any, try to reuse, repurpose and recycle them. 


Repurpose or upcycle

You can get creative and give used Christmas cards a new lease of life. Here are some ideas:

  • Table place tags: use the white back section of the cards and put your guests’ names on them
  • Bookmarks: cut the card into any shape you like and add a used ribbon to it
  • Gift tags: cut out the central motifs from the cards and write your message on the back
  • New cards: be crafty by mixing parts of different old cards to make a new one

Do a quick search for ‘repurpose’ or ‘upcycle’ Christmas cards on the internet and you will find loads of interesting ideas on what can be made out of old cards. 



Christmas cards and their envelopes made from paper can be recycled, so just put them in your recycling bags. 

Any extras like ribbon, glitter or bows should be removed by tearing off that part of the card before recycling. 

Batteries should also be removed from musical cards and disposed of at recycling points, including large supermarkets and household waste recycling centres. Use Recycling Locator tool to find your nearest recycling point.