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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! Here’s a guide to celebrating, giving back, and staying green this season. 

When Giving

  • Think about giving back to community. Give experiences, like a gift card to a museum or a favorite local restaurant. Consider donating to a local food bank to help feed families in need during the holiday season.
  • 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. 
  • Give home cooked meals or baked goods to share with neighbors, family and friends. 
  • Avoid buying online which comes with tons of packaging waste.
  • Make a point to shop from local stores (many are still struggling) and ones that focus on sustainable, lasting goods. Or support a local artist! 


reusable gift wrapping

When Wrapping

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


When Cooking and Eating

  • With holiday celebrations small this year, be sure to buy only what you need. This Guest-Imator tool allows you to adjust your ingredients and portions accordingly.  
  • Don’t forget about the leftovers! Visit for tips and easy recipes to repurpose and transform your leftovers into delicious meals, such as this tasty recipe for fried rice
  • Remember to compost your inedible food scraps. Keep a small tub near your cutting board to collect vegetable trimmings, then easily dump into the curbside green bin. Go one step further and save those onion peels, carrot skins, and celery tops in the freezer for a delicious veggie stock.


Christmas tree recycling

When It's Over

  • Recycle right by only putting 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. 
  • Compost your tree (be sure to remove all decorations, stands, and artificial snow). Check with your city to find out curbside pickup times and instructions. 
  • If you’re feeling the urge to purge ahead of the New Year, do so with intention: many items like clothing, furniture, and toys can either be repaired or donated for reuse. 
  • Here's to a new year! Challenge yourself to keep these thoughtful practices throughout the year. Your wallet, community and environment will thank you.