This post was sponsored by OCRRA as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
The holidays begin and then so does the amount of extra things everywhere! We have extra decorations, extra delivery boxes, extra mail, extra crafts, extra waste. Regardless of how I try to simplify, the abounding mass of material goods is at its finest and largest around the holidays, making it the perfect time to give extra attention to recycling. There are so many ways to reuse or recycle the inflow of items that fill our homes during this time of year, especially during a time where we are doing more online shopping and receiving more packages than ever before, and I'm excited to share with you one of my newest and most favorite crafts, using recycled holiday cards from friends and family!
My recycling game has never been finer than these last few years we've lived in New York, Onondaga County. I've learned so much from OCRRA, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. They are a not-for-profit public benefit corporation that includes a recycling and composting program, a trash and recycling drop off-site, and a foundation for local waste disposal. Their site has helped me numerous times when I've come with questions on how to manage unique materials such as hazardous waste, batteries, and fluorescent bulbs. I so appreciate their mission to educate the public to help our community become more sustainable.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned from their site is regarding what should and should NOT be recycled. I used to throw it all in, assuming the questionable items would get sorted out at the recycling plant, but what that does is just pollute the recycling stream, and the cleaner the stream is, the more valuable it is. Recyclables should also never be put in bags in your recycling bin - items must be loose in your bin in order to be recycled. Becoming more educated, and now knowing that things like styrofoam and plastic bags are not at all for the recycling bin, I've been able to align my values with OCRRA's, and "Save the World a Little Each Day".
Teaching my kids to reuse and recycle has been so rewarding and has fostered some very imaginative things! Any empty box in this house gets turned into some sort of new thing, be it a kitty space ship, a new floor to a dollhouse, or a leprechaun trap. Used bottles have become bowling pins, flower vases, and bird feeders! There isn't a craft day that goes by without visiting the bin of extra papers that are getting a second life. Teaching our children about recycling is teaching the next generation how to care for their world. It's a gift to their future and the space they are inheriting from us.
With all the "extras" I mentioned (decorations, boxes, mail, crafts, waste, etc.) that come with the season, it's a great time to instill good recycling values in our children because it is everywhere! As soon as the deliveries enter the house, immediately break down the boxes to recycle, throw the styrofoam in the trash, and set aside the things to reuse. Just because our holidays may be more hectic than usual, it doesn't mean we should stop our year-round good recycling practices. Here are some healthy recycling guidelines to keep in mind during the holidays.
- Greeting cards and envelopes (unless they have metallic, foil, or glitter decoration)
- Gift bags (unless they have metallic, foil, or glitter decoration)
- Wrapping paper (unless they have metallic, foil, or glitter decoration)
- Gift boxes
- Cardboard boxes
- Catalogs and magazines
RECYCLE THESES, BUT AT OTHER LOCATIONS:
- Film plastics (ex. bubble wrap, plastic bags, air pouches)
- Christmas trees
- Christmas Lights
TRASH THESE (If you can't re-use them!):
- Greeting cards/envelopes/bags with metallic, foil, or glitter decoration
- Ribbons and bows
- Tissue paper
- Unwanted Clothes that are clean and dry; shoes, belts and hats, too!
We first laid out handfuls of holiday cards from previous years and found we had some pretty ones! My kids helped pick out the ones with cute design elements, festive colors, and family pictures small enough to fit on a small circle template.
With a 3" round cutter, we stamped out our favorites selections. The neat thing about this project is that we were able to use exactly the kinds of cards that are meant for the trash because they incorporated metallic, foil, or glitter decorations. These types of materials are no good for the recycling stream but beautiful in recycling crafts!
I found it helpful to separate all the circles into groups by color, so that when we picked out five at a time, one from each pile, we had a good mix and variety on each finished ball.
Take each circle and fold it evenly in half. I like to press the folded edge flat with a straight tool like a butter knife to get a crisp fold.
Glue a semi-circle shape on each of the five pieces, then press them together to make a sphere. Press tightly towards the center!
There will be the slightest amount of space in the center and a strong piece of clear fishing line works perfectly to easily string right through. I used 30 lb. (.023 diameter) high strength line and wouldn't recommend anything thinner. This needs to be strong enough to last for years and hold the weight of all that premium paper!
Slide on more and more balls like beads on a string. If you're worried about the weight of the heavy paper, you might choose to dab a small dot of hot glue between each sphere just to keep the string from creeping up into the glued folds.
And there you have it! This craft could not have been easier! The kids enjoyed creating something new from something old, and I enjoyed preserving these memories into new holiday décor that we can all enjoy!
I'm so glad we were able to make a fun Christmas craft while incorporating some good recycling habits!
If you've ever had questions about what things you can recycle (especially around the holidays), or questions about specific items and how to dispose of them, anything from tin foil to an old microwave, I'd encourage you to visit OCRRA.org. Their searchable database is beyond helpful!
What other things have you made with old holiday cards?