Upcycling is the catch word for turning trash into treasure. Take something that would have been discarded and give it another use. Only in the late 20th century did we become a throw-away society. Let’s go back to the basics in the 21st.

A great place to start being thrifty again is with holiday decor. You probably have a lot of decorations left from last year, but you may want a new look. Find ways to recombine what you have, or swap with friends. Whatever you lack can be likely found in second-hand stores. Looking for these items can become a fun holiday scavenger hunt for you and the kids. 

Don’t throw away that old shirt. Give plaid, paisley, pinstriped and small-print clothing or dish towels a second life as reusable gift tote bags, poppers to hang on the tree, placemats, baby bibs, aprons, dog or cat bed covers, and so much more. After the festivities, knapsacks and totes fold flat to be stored easily for the next year.  

Shoe boxes or round oatmeal containers still make sturdy gift boxes. Keep festive cookie tins to reuse as well. Southern style means you never give a container back empty, so some neighbors and friends swap the same cookie tins back and forth for years.

After the holidays, think also about composting, recycling, donating unused items to charity so others can make use of them, and sharing your extra food with homeless shelters and pantries. Find ways that you can upcycle your holiday trimmings to make new, more sustainable traditions.