December Waste Reduction Tips

Parties, decorations and gifts bring spirit to the holidays, but they can also create more waste. With a little planning, we can have more meaningful holidays and a positive environmental impact. Follow these waste-reduction tips to bring joy without waste this holiday season.

Decorations and Wrapping

Reuse decorations, bows, and other wrapping materials.

Make decorations and gift-wrap out of materials you already have. For crafty reuse ideas from gifts to ornaments, check out Green Global Travel or 60 Christmas Crafts from Recycled Items.

Newspapers, magazines, glossy store ads and phone book pages can by made into beautiful bows!  Find instructions at

Store decorations, lights, and gift-wrap properly, so they will be reusable next Christmas. Look to fix Christmas lights before buying new sets. Learn how to repair Christmas lights at

Buying a locally-grown real tree is your most environmentally-friendly option. Earth 911 explains why: buying real vs artificial trees.

Recycle and/or compost accepted items that you cannot use again.

Shopping and Gifts

As always, remember your reusable shopping bags.

Think of gifts that will be useful and meaningful. Consider experience gifts. Shop local.

Look at your local consignment or thrift store before hitting the mall.

Buy recycled. Many local retailers create one-of-a-kind products from recycled goods. Start with our local recycled retailers: Alchemy Goods, InterConnection, Ballard ReUse and NuBe Green.

Personalize environmentally-friendly gifts with homemade food and products. Many recipes are online for bath products, baked goods, and canned gifts.

For homemade gifts visit The Greenest Dollar.  If you plan to travel,  GreenHotels is a good place to start.  Shopping online?  Consider purchasing brands that limit their packaging; Organically Becca can help you find them.

Entertaining and Parties

Use real plates, utensils and napkins. If you don’t have enough to accommodate your group, consider renting, purchasing from a thrift store, or asking guests to bring dishes and silverware.

Use what’s in your pantry. Build your menu around what you already have.

Serve locally-produced foods that require less packaging.

Make a list of exactly what you will need and know for how many you are planning. For zero-waste meals and appropriate portion planning, go to Zero-Waste Chef.

Label your inside bins, so that guests know where to find garbage, recycling and food waste.

Bringing Children into the Loop

Are your children recycling savvy?  You can get them started with this Kid’s Guide to Recycling. If you live in Seattle, you’ll want to correct a few things that don’t apply here, but for the most part there are lots of fun, educational ways to get your kids involved in recycling in your household.