A Miami University professor admits holiday cards and envelopes may not have a huge impact on landfills and recycling streams, but Steve Keller says there are things to watch for to keep the stream clean. He says most holiday cards are simply made of paper, which can be recycled. If there's glitter on the paper, throw it out.
"You can imagine, much of our paper such as copy paper and corrugated containers, but especially copy paper is recycled and imagine that you're trying to get rid of that glitter so it doesn't end up in that package of office paper that you use when you're printing things out," he says.
The same goes for anything with foil on it.
Keller says some wrapping paper can also be recycled, but only if it doesn't have plastic in it.
"We just bought some paper that we wrapped our gifts with, and it was made out of a plastic, which probably was imported. It certainly had different characteristics than what we used to have with regular coated paper," Keller says. "Now the coated paper would be recycled the same way magazines would be or newsprint. But the plastic definitely is going to be something that is going to be separated out at a recycling operation and end up going to a landfill."
He says bows probably can't be recycled, but they can be reused.
He says before buying something, consider whether the value outweighs the space it would take up in a landfill.