Holiday Tips for Reducing Waste

Whether you are hibernating at home or braving the winter weather, there are lots of things you can do to reduce your impact to the environment and still be of good cheer. It’s easy to warm up to these reduce/reuse/recycle tips!

1. The best things in life aren’t things.

Give gifts this year that don’t require shelf space. Try a gift certificate for a sporting event, movie, play, or concert, or make a charitable donation in someone’s name.

2. Make gifts.

Everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal or baked goodies.

3. Shop for gifts at antique stores, estate sales or flea markets.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure! If buying, shop locally to save gas and support local businesses.

4. Always look for items with recycled content.

Buying items made out of recycled material helps close the recycling loop, saving energy and resources by reducing the amount of virgin materials needing to be extracted and refined to create the product. Items labeled, “Made from post-consumer waste” are best.

5. Think durable!

Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often, a cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable equivalent.

6. Use reusable shopping bags to make your purchases.

If you’re heading to the store, try bringing your own shopping bag. You’ll save disposable bags from being discarded, and as a bonus they won’t accumulate in your closet. This tip works in any store, and some stores reward you for doing it.

7. When buying gifts to send by mail…

Choose items that are easy to ship and that don’t require excess packaging. Choose reused or recyclable cartons and packing materials. Old newspaper makes a terrific packing material!

8. Wrap gifts in recyclable/reusable packaging.

Reuse bows, ribbons, gift bags, and tissue paper that are still in good shape. Use newspaper, brown paper bags, or reusable fabric to wrap gifts. Decorate gifts with biodegradeable twine and dried herbs or flowers. Or, skip the wrapping altogether!

9. Decluttering after the holidays

Donate your unwanted household items to a local charity or to the District’s Reuse It or Lose It Program. It’s easy to do and can help make a difference in someone’s life.

10. Parties

For a low-impact party, put a lid on disposable silverware, dishware, and tablecloths. Use the durable stuff that you can wash and keep around. Cloth napkins add a touch of class to your holiday bash.

After the party, don’t throw away the leftovers! Package them in reusable containers and send them home with guests. Donate leftover groceries to your community food shelf. Compost any inedible food scraps.

Read our “How to Throw a Waste-Free Party” article for more tips.

11. Recycle right.

Wrapping paper (except foil, mylar, and bows), cardboard boxes, and Christmas cards are all recyclable. Click here for a list of places that collect and reuse packing peanuts and bubble wrap. To access our printable recycling guide, click here.


This new year, make reducing waste your resolution!