Green Holiday Guide

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Much of that excess packaging, paper and food ends up in a landfill.

Modifying choices to create less waste can be easier than you think.

Here are some ideas for the holidays — and all year long!

Recycle right

  • Keep holiday light strands and tinsel out of the recycling container.
  • Reuse boxes as long as possible. Flatten them before recycling. Also consider programs such as Give Back Box.
  • Rinse and clean bottles, cans, jugs and tubs. Food-contaminated items cannot be recycled.
  • Keep Styrofoam and plastic bags out of curbside and drop-off recycling.
  • Never place batteries or electronic devices in recycling. Learn how to manage batteries at their end of life.
  • Recycle your real Christmas tree into mulch if your community offers such a program.

Be smart about holiday cards

  • If you send holiday cards, be sure they’re printed on recycled paper. There are even tree-free cards available. Treehugger highlights seven eco-friendly cards.
  • Make sure your cards can also be recycled. Avoid cards with glitter, gems and other embellishments as these are not recyclable.
  • Handmade cards are always a treat. Find inspiration at CVWMA’s Pinterest. Get kids involved with this card craft from Richmond Family Magazine.

Consider giving old greeting cards new life through programs such as the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program.

Wrap green

  • Reuse tissue paper, bows, ribbons, gifts bags and wrapping paper, if you use them at all.
  • Create your own gift tags from leftover cardstock.
  • Wrap with newspapers, magazines, comics pages, brown paper grocery bags or other papers you can find. These papers are recyclable.
  • Make packaging part of the gift! For example, wrap gifts for the kitchen in nice, new kitchen towels.

See Ecocult’s ideas for eco-friendly gift wrap.

Note: CVWMA does not accept shiny, metallic or glitter wrapping paper.

Just say ‘no’ to single-use plastic

  • Use reusable dishes, utensils, cloth table covers and napkins. Pull out the classy stuff you never use! Dust off Grandma’s crystal.
  • Decorate with plants, fabrics and treasured family objects instead of plastic tchotchkes and disposables.
  • Set out recycling containers for guests to drop their bottles and cans. Have another for composting food waste.

The Recycling Partnership offers a guide to green holiday decorating.

More help for the holidays

Green Your Holiday Season (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
How to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season  (Apartment Guide)