Green Holiday Guide


From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day household waste increases by more than 25%. No matter what holiday you celebrate this holiday season, consider the impact your celebration has on the environment.  There are a number of ways you can modify your choices this season to reduce the amount of waste you create.  We can help think green and make sustainable choices.
From the GIFTS you buy and the type of GIFT WRAP you use, to the HOLIDAY CARDS you send, we hope you’ll find these tips helpful this month, and all year long.  Visit our Pinterest page too.  If a live Christmas tree is part of your celebration,  please recycle it after your celebration is over.

Conservatree has put together information about purchasing holiday cards that are printed on recycled paper.  They recommend the ones below on their website.  For more tips about purchasing paper items (including calendars and office products) with recycled-content, click here.

· Hallmark’s Shoebox Greetings, My Thoughts Exactly, and Comedy Club lines
· Leanin’ Tree’s Western and Native American art
· Peaceable Kingdom’s illustrations from favorite children’s books
· Pomegranate’s photos and illustrations
· Recycled Paper Greetings

Additional eco friendly greeting card sites include: Cards Direct ,  Planet Pals or make your own from Richmond Family Magazine Kids Can Do feature or visit our Pinterest page

When shopping for that perfect gift. Please consider these tips:
Think. Shop. Buy. Local.
Central VA has many local businesses that offer recycled content and sustainable clothing and accessories. From fleece products made from recycled plastic bottles to decorative dishware made from recycled glass bottles, these companies offer items for everyone on your holiday list. (Kwanza, Hanukkah,Christmas, etc.)
Dick’s Sporting Goods — carries recycled clothing (Patagonia and Under Armour)
REI – carries recycled clothing (REI brand, Patagonia), backpacks, etc.
Plow and Hearth- carries recycled tree ornaments (aluminum)
Ten Thousand Villages – carries a variety of sustainable accessories and recycled jewelry.

  • Encourage minimal gift exchanges such as a secret Santa or white elephant gift experience.
  • Reduce waste by giving an e-gift card or reloading an existing gift card.
  • Get crafty and creating do-it-yourself gifts.  Repurpose something into something new.
  • Give rechargeable batteries (with the charging station) for toys that require batteries.
  • Give an alternative gift that may benefit charities, adopt a family for the holidays, make a donation to a local animal shelter.
  • Eco friendly gifts such as movie passes, theatre tickets; museum memberships or gifts from the heart such as offering to make dinner, walk the dog, help with gardening or home repairs

Some of CVWMA’s favorite green gifts:

Be sure to check out the variety of eco-friendly tips for holiday entertaining and decorating links below. Consumers will also find creative gift-wrapping ideas and tips on how to “be green” all year round. Visit our Pinterest page too.

Purchase wrapping paper made from recycled materials that will also be recyclable. CVWMA does not accept metallic/glitter holiday wrapping paper due to the dyes used in making it (it’s not compatible with the other papers we collect.) If you choose to use tissue paper and wrapping paper, reuse it.  Say no to extras like gift tags and bows as they are not recyclable.
Another idea is to give items you have a second life as gift wrap.  Newspapers, magazines, comics pages, brown paper grocery bags to create your own wrapping paper – a good activity for the kids too!  A third option is to use reusable items like gift bags or cardboard shipping boxes as gift boxes . Finally, packaging  can also part of the gift – for example, a set of kitchen items wrapped in kitchen towels! Visit our Pinterest page too! 

Hosting a No Waste Party or Event

  • Send invitations printed on recycled paper, or send electronic invitations.
  • Decorate with plants, fabrics, and other greeneries instead of plastic streamers, Mylar decorations, or balloons.
  • Purchase party supplies in bulk and buy only what you need. Buying the largest size usually saves you packaging.
  • Use usable dishes, utensils, cloth table covers and napkins.
  • Think of creative ways to serve food; such as new frisbees as plates so guests can take them home as gifts.
  • Set up an area to recycle bottles and cans from party. Compost leftover food waste.
  • Non-perishable items can be donated to local food bank.

Other Resources:
The 2020 Guide to Green Holiday Gifting ( Source: Recycling Partnership)
Green Holiday Decorating Tips & Tricks ( Source: Recycling Partnership)

  1. Green Holiday Decorating Tips and Tricks
  2. Your Guide to a Green Holiday Party
  3. Your Guide to Green Holiday Gifting

Green Living: Tips for eco friendly holidays
Greening Your Holidays (EPA blog)
Planet Pals
How to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season  (blog)
CVWMA Reminders about Holiday Recycling

  • Shiny Wrapping paper cannot be recycled due to the metallic dyes used in making it. (If you use this type of wrapping, save it and reuse it next year). Leave bows out of recycling containers too.
  • Cardboard boxes need to be flattened.
  • If live trees are part of your holiday celebrations, please recycle it.