Reduce, reuse and recycle right this holiday season

The holiday season brings gifts, good cheer and plenty of items to deal with. The City of Calgary is encouraging Calgarians to make it a green Christmas with tips and tools to help reduce and reuse while also ensuring gift wrap, boxes and Christmas food scraps end up in the right cart this year.

“Calgarians generally produce more waste over the holidays, but it doesn’t have to always be this way,” says Sharon Howland, Leader of Program Management with Waste & Recycling Services. “Instead, celebrate with new holiday traditions that can help reduce and reuse all the wrapping paper, bubble wrap and plastic bags.”

See the tips below and make sure you know what your pickup schedule is going to be.

Holiday collection schedule

There is no cart pickup on Christmas Day or New Year's Day for households with residential cart service.

If your blue, green or black cart collection normally falls on Wednesday, your collection day will be two days earlier on these weeks:

  • Christmas Day (Weds. December 25, 2019) pick up will move to Monday, December 23, 2019.
  • New Year's Day (Weds. January 1, 2020) pick up will move to Monday, December 30, 2019

Stay notified on schedule changes and pickup reminders by signing up for free at

Reuse and reduce this Christmas

Calgarians can take steps to reduce the amount of waste that needs to go into a bin this holiday season.

  • Give the gift of experiences rather than physical goods.
  • Buy items that come with less packaging or in recyclable packaging.
  • Use fabric, newspaper/flyers, or old calendars to wrap gifts.
  • Save gift wrap, gift bags, bows and ribbons for reuse.
  • Plan your meals and holiday food shopping to prevent waste and save money.
  • Skip the paper napkins in favour of a reusable cloth material.
  • Use reusable containers for leftovers instead of plastic wrap or tin foil.

Recycle wrapping paper, boxes and other holiday recyclables

“The gift giving season means a lot of gift wrap, boxes and other recyclables that belong in your blue cart,” says Howland.

Put the following recyclables loose (not in a bag unless otherwise stated) into your blue cart:

  • Wrapping paper and tissue paper
  • Cardboard boxes, gift boxes, shoe and shipping boxes – flatten your boxes to make extra room in your blue cart.
  • Paper gift bags – Remove the handles before recycling.
  • Holiday cards and envelopes
  • Moulded plastic packaging with recycling symbol #1-7 (commonly found with electronics and kids toys)
  • Bubble wrap – bundle with other stretchy plastic bags and tie the handles closed.
  • Cookie and chocolate tins – eat the cookies and chocolates first.

Learn more at

Compost your holiday food waste

Use the green cart to compost such food items as:

  • Turkey carcasses and other bones.
  • Pastries, cookies, cakes and muffins.
  • Plate scrapings and vegetable scraps.
  • All food-soiled paper, including napkins, paper plates, coffee filters, baking paper and liners.
  • Cooking oil, lard, shortening, jam, butter, sauces, grease, dips, salad dressing, mayonnaise and gravy.

Don’t let those real Christmas trees go to waste

Here’s how Calgarians can compost real trees this year:

Use your green cart

After removing all lights, ornaments, tinsel and string, follow the same steps as you would for branches from your yard:

  • Cut your tree into pieces (no more than four feet long), put them into your green cart and make sure the lid can close.
  • If your green cart is full, fill paper yard waste bags and roll closed. Set yard waste bags at least one foot from the side of your green cart.

Trees that are not prepared this way will not be collected.

Use a drop-off location

Whole trees can be dropped off at temporary drop-off locations across Calgary between Dec. 26 and Feb 2. Do not wrap, tie or bag your tree, and remember to remove tree stands and all lights, ornaments, tinsel and string.

For a full list of drop-off locations visit

Dispose Right

After recycling and composting the right items, make sure to put these end-of-use products in the black cart as garbage.

  • Non-recyclable gift wrap like cellophane, metallic and foil gift wrap
  • Broken household items like dishes, ornaments and artificial Christmas trees
  • All types of foam packaging including takeout containers and packing peanuts

Also, remember to take old electronics to your nearest electronics recycling drop-off and donate reusable goods like clothing, furniture and toys through local charity donation centres.

When in doubt, check it out with What Goes Where

If you’re not sure where to put an item this holiday season, check out The City’s What Goes Where Tool at


Note to media: Due to holidays, interview bookings are available this week only.