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Sustainable Holiday Guide

From discarded wrapping paper, retired e-waste, and uneaten leftovers, the holidays come with a lot of waste—from Thanksgiving to New Year's, Americans produce 25 percent more waste! With some planning and intention, we can reduce our carbon footprint while still experiencing the joy of coming together with family and friends. Here’s a guide to celebrate, give back, and stay green this season. 

When Cooking and Eating

  • Buy only what you need. Plan your shopping trips and avoid wasted food. Use this Guest-Imator tool to adjust your ingredients and portions accordingly. 
  • Send guests home with leftovers. Everyone appreciates having the next day's meal ready to go, and it ensures all that delicious food gets eaten! Have guest bring empty containers, or reuse empty food containers you've saved and cleaned.  
  • Compost your food scraps. Keep a small tub near your cutting board to collect vegetable trimmings, then easily dump into your curbside compost bin. Go one step further and save those onion peels, carrot skins, and celery tops in the freezer for a delicious veggie stock.


When Giving

  • Try second-hand first. Shopping at vintage or thrift stores, or your local buy-nothing group, not only saves money, but keeps stuff out of the landfill. 
  • Shop at local stores. Shop local and support businesses that focus on sustainable, lasting goods, when possible. Try to avoid buying online which creates additional packaging and transportation waste. 
  • Give experiences. Gift tickets to a museum, gift cards to a local restaurant, or make home-cooked meals, baked goods, or home-made treats to share with neighbors, family, and friends. 
  • Give back. Along with reducing own own wasted food over the holidays, there are also many ways to support essential local food organizations that help nourish our communities throughout the year. Here is a list of local organizations to get started


reusable gift wrapping

When Wrapping

  • Skip the store bought wrapping paper. Get crafty with repurposed materials you may have around the house. Paper bags, newspaper, and fabric make beautiful options
  • Repurpose extra jars and containers. If you're giving the gift of homemade goodies this year, repurposed glass jars and containers work wonderfully. 


Christmas tree recycling

When Tidying Up

  • Recycle correctly. Put what is allowed in your bins. Many common items like metallic wrapping paper and ribbons do not belong in the recycling bin. Visit our RE:Source guide to find out what goes where in your city. 
  • Set a reminder. If you celebrate with a tree, be sure to remove all decorations, stands, and artificial snow before composting. Check with your city to find out curbside pickup times and instructions. 
  • Reconsider before letting go. If it's time to move some things on, do so with intention: many items like clothing, furniture, and toys can either be repaired or donated for reuse.