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What are Your Favorite “Green” Holiday Tips?

emilyToday’s post comes from ILACSD’s Intern, Emily Knuutinen!

holidayWhat do you think of when you think of the holiday season? Initially, you probably think of family, good food, presents, lights, trees, the scent of pine, the smell of cookies…If you think a little harder you may also start to think of our huge consumption during this time of the year, from buying something you hope your difficult-to-buy-for uncle will like, to the energy to power lights, to the driving all around buying presents, cards, decorations, and other things to make your holiday season a little merrier.

We’ve complied some of the easiest tips to keep your mind on family and the food and not on how full your trashcan will be by the end of the week, but we also want to hear what YOU are doing to lessen the amount of waste you produce this holiday season. Leave your favorite tips in the comments below!

  1. Choose bags over wrapping paper. They are easier to store and reuse. If you want to wrap presents, try reusing newspaper, posters, napkins, maps or whatever other materials you have around your house!
  2. Send e-cards, or if you would prefer to send actual cards, choose ones made of recycled material. Or make your own cards, again using whatever materials you already have.
  3. Use LED Christmas lights. LED lights use less energy and are less likely to catch a tree on fire. Safer and cheaper, what’s not to love? They may have a higher upfront cost, but the lower energy bills will make them cheaper in the long run.
  4. Reusable bags aren’t just for the grocery store. Remember to bring those reusable bags when you are out gift shopping too!
  5. Give gifts that are eco-friendly. Local crafts are great, as are presents made of recycled materials. When buying from a store, look for ones with limited packaging, durable materials, and products that are easy to repair. Look for eco-friendly materials like organic cotton or bamboo.
  6. Get creative this season and make your own presents! You can bake cookies, knit scarves or hats, paint, draw, make calendars or mugs with your own photos, or turn whatever it is that you love into a present.
  7. Use reusable plates and silverware at your holiday gathering. As tempting as it may be to use paper plates and plastic utensils, this creates a lot of waste, uses a lot of energy and materials to create, and produces greenhouse gases as it sits in a landfill.  So pass out reusable plates and prepare to ask for help for the cleanup.
  8. Recycle packaging at your holiday celebration. Wrapping papers, cards, and plastic containers can be recycled. Americans generate 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and much of this can be recycled!
  9. Wondering if you should get a tree, or whether plastic or live is better? The best option is to buy a live, potted tree. The second best tree option is to buy a live tree but recycle it afterwards. If you are debating between a real and a live tree, real trees are better, according to Earth911, because fake trees involve many harmful chemicals in their production, and most are transported all the way from China where they are manufactured.
  10. Remember the importance of the 3 Rs this season! Reduce your consumption, reuse materials you already have, and recycle your paper and tree. Give the invaluable gift of sustainability this season and follow our tips!

Want more? Check out these other resources from around the web:

Recycle Curbside blog

Ecology Center’s Holiday Tips

Ventura County Star’s Holiday Waste Article

Terra Cycle’s Community Blog


  1. Great tips!! I am known for my bow and bag recycling, now I have permission! Happy Holidays 🙂

  2. You absolutely have permission, tell them we made you do it 🙂 We’re classic gift bag re-users over here!

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