Sustainability through the Holiday Season

It’s easy to get wrapped up both literally and figuratively in the craziness of the holiday season.  With all the traveling done, gifts bought, and food cooked, there ends up being a lot of resources used and waste created from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.  It’s estimated that household waste increases by over 25% during the holidays.  There are some easy ways to reduce this number, though. Here are some helpful tips on how to have a more environmentally friendly holiday season and save some money while you’re at it!!

  1. If you give gifts, talk with your loved ones about setting up a Secret Santa program. That way you only have to buy one gift, and only receive one gift. And you can provide your Secret Santa with a list of items you actually want! Because honestly, did you really like or need the sweater you got from your aunt last year, or the candle from your in-laws?
  2. If you are giving gifts, there are lots of options to lessen your environmental impact. Don’t be afraid of re-gifting (as long as you know who gave you your gift!). I’m sure you have some things in your house that are very nice items that you just aren’t utilizing.  You could also make something. Check out Pinterest for great craft and baking ideas.  If you still aren’t sure of what to get someone, maybe they’d appreciate a donation to a good cause. If you are buying an item, try to choose things that have less plastic wrapping and are recyclable. Here are a few links that offer up-cycled gifts, and ones made from recycled materials:                                                                                      
  3. Plan ahead for those necessary, and sometimes terrifying, shopping trips so you don’t have to make several runs. Maybe carpool with a friend, or take public transportation.
  4. Get creative with wrapping paper! Re-use gift bags, newspaper, old magazines, make a collage of old wrapping paper from last year, or scrap paper to wrap your gifts. My personal favorite is to “wrap” gifts in reusable cloth bags (since I have a surplus). Or if you really like the traditional style, make sure to check the labels and purchase recycled wrapping paper.
  5. Send E-cards instead of traditional cards. Save a tree and postage! Or at least make sure your cards are made from recycled paper.
  6. If you enjoy having a tree to decorate, look for sustainable local growers and recycle or mulch it after the season ends.  Or if you have the space or know someone that does, a portable one you can plant in the new year is a wonderful option.  Another idea is to check websites like Craigslist for people giving away re-usable trees.  You’d be surprised at what people are giving away.
  7. If you like to decorate the outside of your home try to limit the amount of lights you put up. Purchase LED lights or focus on non-electrical decorations to reduce your energy use. And don’t forget to set-up a timer to turn those lights off. No one wants to see a blinking Ho-Ho-Ho sign at 3:00 am.
  8. Compost uneaten food or donate it! If you aren’t sure how to compost make sure to check out our website at for tips, methods on building your own bin, and upcoming free workshops! Also look into our bin subsidy program for certain regions of San Diego.

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