Holiday and Gift-Giving Guide

With parties, decorations, gift giving and travel, Americans generate 25 percent more waste than average between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The good news? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, almost 80% of what is thrown away during the holidays can be recycled or reused. We’re here to help.

Holiday Recycling

Want to be on the “Nice” list this holiday season? Place only the Nice items in your recycle bin.

“Naughty” items contaminate recycling. Donate, reuse, or place Naughty items in the garbage.

Nice

  • Wrapping Paper (paper only)
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Paper Boxes
  • Paper Cards & Envelopes
  • Catalogs
  • Glass Bottles & Jars
  • Plastic Bottles & Jugs
  • Aluminum, Tin, & Steel Cans

Naughty

  • Christmas Lights
  • Garland & Tinsel
  • Foil Wrapping Paper
  • Ribbons & Bows
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Plastic Air Pillows
  • Polystyrene Foam
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Paper & Plastic Plates
  • Batteries
  • Plastic Bags

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

Anna Lappe

Gift-Giving

Secondhand Gifting

There are many reasons why secondhand gifting is a great idea and why we should normalize it. Secondhand gifting:

  • Reduces waste, including packaging
  • Saves money
  • Supports a circular economy
  • Reduces carbon emissions

Buying is fun because secondhand gifts are unique!

According to a December 2021 article by Fast Company, research found that 66% of people (and 72% of Generation Z) are open to receiving secondhand gifts. But the vast majority haven’t been willing to give it a try.

Tips for Giving and Receiving Secondhand Gifts

  • Let loved ones know that you are open to receiving secondhand gifts.
  • Ask loved ones if they’re open to secondhand gifts, as in “do you prefer secondhand or new gifts?”
  • Keep a note of who prefers secondhand and give yourself a little more time to shop when buying.

Repair Sentimental Items for Gifts

  • Restoration of sentimental or heirloom items, such as furniture and jewelry, can preserve their place in history to delight future generations.
  • Converting photos and videos into newer and more accessible technology can be a thoughtful gift and introduce generations of family and friends to one another.

Consider Giving “Low Waste” Gifts

Rather than buying new items from retailers, consider gifting experiences — think concert tickets, a special meal, or a year-round pass to a local park or museum.

What To Do With Unwanted Gifts

According to a survey by finder.com and Pureprofile, Americans spent around $15.2 billion on unwanted holiday gifts in 2019, and 4% of them ended up in the trash.

The gift economy or gift culture is an exchange in which services or goods are given freely, without payment or trade in return. Give unwanted gifts using local buy-nothing groups — there, you can post items on social media and someone in your neighborhood can claim them for free. 

Annual Cleanout Before the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to do your annual closet cleanout. Letting go of unwanted items may get them into the hands of someone who needs or wants them.

  • If you have clothes, toys, or household goods that you’re no longer using, take them to a donation center or trade them in at a consignment shop, rather than tossing to the curb.
  • Visit the Where Does It Go? Search Tool for gifting and donation options.

What you’re no longer using could be just what somebody else is looking for.

Resources

Christmas Tree-to-Mulch Programs

Pinellas County residents are encouraged to participate in available Christmas Tree-to-Mulch programs to repurpose trees into usable, moisture-retaining mulch.

To see if your municipality offers offers separate collection for Christmas Trees, visit the Where Does It Go? Search Tool, select “For Homes,” and type “Christmas Trees” in the search field. Alternatively, click here to contact your municipality.

Trees are accepted for a nominal fee at the Pinellas County Solid Waste Disposal Complex, where trees will be ground into useable mulch that is given away for free to residents. Click here for the hours of operation and location. Click here for the Christmas Tree disposal fee.

Residents who live in multifamily communities, such as apartments and condominiums, should consult their association or property managers for tree disposal instructions.

Household Electronics & Batteries

It’s common to receive electronic items as gifts. What should you do with electronic items you need to discard?

  • Locate a donation center or electronics recycler through the Where Does It Go? Search Tool.
  • Take items with rechargeable batteries to drop off locations using the Where Does It Go? Search Tool. Rechargeable batteries can cause fires when compressed by equipment and endanger workers and buildings, so they should not be discarded in garbage or recycling collection containers.
  • Household electronics that do not have rechargeable batteries can be discarded in the garbage.
  • For bulky electronics that cannot fit into garbage bins, take them to an electronics recycler or contact your municipality or hauler about bulky waste collection.

Repurposed Costumes

Looking for DIY costume inspiration? Get creative and look no further than your neighborhood thrift store! Cut down on textile waste and search for a thrift store near you at thethriftshopper.com.

More ways to reuse:

  • Repurpose items on hand, such as old costumes, into holiday decorations and accessories
  • Donate your old costumes
  • Hold a costume swap

Have Questions?

Call (727) 464-7500, email recycle@pinellascounty.org or click the Live Chat button below.