Can You Recycle Christmas Cards? (And Are They Bad For The Environment?)

The love and happiness that come with the celebration of Christmas are always one of a kind. This is probably why millions of Christmas gifts and cards are always making the rounds during this season.

As commendable as this is, it simultaneously raises some environmental concerns, especially as it relates to Christmas cards. For instance, while Christmas gifts would last for a considerable number of months, Christmas cards begin to lose their relevance a day after the celebrations, and gradually until they are considered garbage materials. When this happens, what can we say will be the end of the Christmas cards?

To answer this question, this post will be looking at some of the ways Christmas cards can or are already affecting the environment. No doubt, there’s a lot to learn from the post. If you are ready to dive into this, we are ready too. So, fasten your curiosity belt, and let’s take you to our world of wonders.

Are Old Christmas Cards Recyclable?

Nobody ponders recycling Christmas cards when they first get them. What fills their mind at that point is the delight of the occasion they are celebrating. However, after some time, the once flawless Christmas cards start to lose their importance. And when they finally do, disposing of the Christmas cards becomes an everyday thought.

One way to dispose of Christmas cards is by considering the recycling option. But then, are old Christmas cards recyclable? Let’s find out together.

Yes, you can recycle Christmas cards. That appears as though the best news you are expecting to hear today. But let’s go a bit further and clarify this!

No doubt, many of the Christmas cards around are paper materials. Except for a couple of Christmas cards that are a blend of paper and polythene materials, the rest is absolutely from paper. The implication of this is that you can’t recycle all your Christmas cards because of their production materials. This may seem a bit confusing, but don’t worry, let’s take a deeper look.

You Cannot Recycle Christmas Cards With Nylon Foil or Glitter.

Usually, for Christmas cards to achieve their bright design, manufacturers add glitters or nylon foil. These glitters bring out the design in the Christmas cards and make them appealing to everyone. However, unlike the purely paper Christmas cards, these Christmas cards with glitters are difficult to recycle.

The reason for this is due to the nylon foil and glitter present on these Christmas cards. These nylon foil and glitters are waterproof, and they make it difficult for recyclers to break down the paper in liquid to make pulp before recycling. If this is not done, there are no way recyclers would make the paper into something else.

So, you may have been excited about Christmas cards being recycled because they come from paper, but before you send them for recycling, check if they have been coated with nylon foil or glitters. Sending this kind of Christmas card for recycling is like wasting your time and creating extra work for the recyclers. After all, the Christmas cards with glitter will end up in the landfill.

Can I Put Christmas Cards In My Recycling Bin?

Recycling things that you are no longer in need of is a good decision. But then, just like you can’t recycle everything, you can’t also toss everything in your recycling bin. With regards to Christmas cards, there are some basic things you need to understand before deciding to put them in the recycling bin. Let’s walk you through these things.

The general rule is that you can only put Christmas cards in your recycling bin if they are entirely paper materials. This is very important for you to understand.

If you have Christmas cards that have been made with a different material other than paper, you should stay clear of putting them in the recycling bin.

This follows that all Christmas cards designed with materials such as glitter, pins, plastic lining, or glue are not fit for the recycling bin.

This also may seem a bit unclear. Let’s explain further.

In recycling Christmas cards or paper materials generally, recyclers would first have to break down the paper in water. For Christmas cards made entirely with papers, doing this is quite easy. But for others coated or designed with other materials, water cannot break them down.

For instance, no matter how long nylon foil, glitters, pins, or other plastic materials stay in the water, they won’t break down. While these materials are attached to the Christmas cards, they cannot be recycled. Hence, you shouldn’t put them in the recycling bin.

If you want to put these Christmas cards in the recycling bin, it is better to remove all the materials that would not break down in the water. These include your Christmas cards with glitters, plastic lining, glue, and others.  This is the only way that recycling them won’t pose difficulties for the recycling company.

On the other hand, putting Christmas cards with these materials in your recycling bin means you intend to contaminate or delay the recycling process or don’t even intend to recycle it at all. So, for the sake of having a smooth recycling process, remove Christmas cards that aren’t entirely paper materials from the recycling bin. 

Are Christmas Cards Bad For The Environment?

There are different angles to consider when answering this question. Generally, Christmas cards have their specific uses during the yuletide celebrations. But, we need to look beyond this to see what effects they are having on the environment.

First, just like every other thing made with paper, Christmas cards have an indirect effect on humans and the environment. Yearly, thousands of trees are cut down to make paper materials for Christmas cards. These trees being cut down could have helped sustain the environment, cleanse the atmosphere, and prevent disasters like flooding.  So, indirectly, even Christmas cards made entirely of paper materials are bad for the environment.

On the other side, Christmas cards coated with nylon foil glitter, plastics, or gum are impossible to recycle or compost. This means that they end up in the landfill, where they remain for years. Due to the plastic coatings, they don’t biodegrade fast and might be a problem for the environment if displaced by wind or flood.

In the situation that the plastic coating on these Christmas cards finally breakdown, that doesn’t mark their end; they only reduce to microplastics that remain in the soil for a considerable number of years.

These microplastics in the soil often reduce the nutrient of the soil and occasionally stunt the growth of plants. Aside from these, the glitters, nylon foil, and gum sometimes contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the soil, pollute the environment and contaminate the groundwater.

If you consider all the above, you will discover that Christmas cards may bring joy to many people during the yuletide season, but they contribute negatively to the environment. The better alternative is to adopt electronic greeting cards. This performs the same effect on the receiver as paper Christmas cards will do.

Can Christmas Cards Go In The Recycling Bin?

If you have been following us from the beginning, you would have sensed that the answer to this question is in two folds. Like we explained above, Christmas cards can go in the recycling bin only if they are made entirely of paper materials. For many recycling stations, this is the only kind of Christmas card they accept.

On the other hand, Christmas cards cannot go in the recycling bin if they have been coated with nylon foil, glitters, soft plastics, or gum. This is because the recycling process of these other materials is different, and if they are not entirely removed, they will prevent the smooth recycling of the paper used for the Christmas cards.

In all, if you want to put all your Christmas card in the recycling bin, then you must make all efforts to remove all other materials that won’t break down in the water before you put the Christmas cards in the recycling bin.

How Do You Dispose Of Old Christmas cards?

The truth about humans is that we hardly see the relevance or value of things once their time has passed. You may have loved your Christmas cards during the yuletide season, but once the season is over, they gradually lose their relevance and become garbage materials. When this happens, what is next is disposing of them. But how do you go about this? Let’s find out.

Because Christmas cards are a seasonal thing, we can’t advocate gifting, selling, or donating. Truthfully speaking, hardly will anyone want to take possession of those old Christmas cards.

The only option it seems you are left with as a means of disposal is packaging and recycling them. This way, you are not filling the landfill with materials that you can recycle.

However, despite being the only viable option of disposal, there are some basic things you have to ensure. Let’s look into these things.

1. Collect The Christmas Cards

The first thing to do is collect as many Christmas cards as possible. You may want to check your offices, drawers, garage, and store to gather those Christmas cards that have lost their relevance.

2. Separate Them

Recall that we pointed out above about all Christmas cards not made of paper materials. This is why it is important to separate them. The best way to know which Christmas cards are paper materials is to try to tear or crumple them. If you have difficulties tearing them or they straighten back immediately you crumple them; then, they have been coated with plastic materials.

3. Package Them

The next step is to package the Christmas cards that are entirely paper materials and send them for recycling. You can label them accordingly for easy identification in the recycling center. For the Christmas cards coated with plastic materials, you can still send them for recycling if you are willing to go through the trouble of removing these plastic coatings and other hard materials like glitters, pins, nylon foil, gum, etc.

The above are the basic things you need to abide by to recycle your Christmas cards. Once you do this, then there is likely not going to be any problem with the environment.


Though they quickly lose their relevance, Christmas cards will always signify that there are still people out there who care about us. And knowing this alone will always bring joy to our hearts. In the same way, we too must show that we care about the environment by ensuring that our Christmas cards do not harm the environment. The various ways to do this have been provided above, it is now left with you to make the right decision.


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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.