10 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season!

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25%! Increased food waste, shopping bags, gift packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons add an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. It doesn’t have to be this way. Make your holiday season as sustainable as possible by incorporating these 10 waste reduction tips:

  1. Buy recycled-content paper products for traditional gift wrapping or holiday cards.
  2. Avoid traditional wrapping in favor of materials that you already have around the house like newspaper, sheet music or old maps. You can also use scarves, t-shirts or other wrapping that could be a gift as well.
  3. Cook smarter this holiday season and reduce food scraps by cooking only what you and your guests can reasonably eat. Food is the number one thing in America’s landfills. Check out the “Guest-imator” tool to help you figure out the right amount of food to prepare: www.savethefood.com/guestimator/guests.
  4. Recycle clean aluminum pie and turkey tins; cardboard boxes; cracker boxes; glass food jars; metal cans; paper egg cartons; plastic juice bottles; plastic milk and water jugs; soda, cider, wine, champagne and beer bottles. If you’re not sure if an item can be recycled contact your local solid waste department.
  5. Reduce waste by giving experiences rather than stuff like gift certificates and e-tickets to plays, movies, concerts or sporting events.
  6. Utilize electronic holiday greeting cards, offered through a variety of websites, for a convenient, no-cost, waste-free alternative.
  7. Just say no to the frosted Christmas tree. Many cities and counties offer Christmas tree recycling. However, if you opt for a flocked tree, most often these cannot be recycled because of the chemical content used to give the tree that frosted look. Go au natural or opt for an artificial tree that can be reused year after year.
  8. Incorporate recycling dead batteries into a holiday shopping trip. Many retailers offer in-store collection. Find a drop-off location near you by visiting www.call2recycle.org/locator.
  9. Put all your lights on timers for energy savings and peace of mind while you’re away.
  10. Never pour cooking fats, oils, and grease down the drain. If you pour them down your sink drain, they will harden in your pipes and may block the flow of sewage away your home! The best way to deal with fats, oils, and grease from cooking waste is to let them cool then scrape into the trash.

For more information on consumer recycling and waste reduction tips go to:

Mendocino County: Mendorecycle.org or call the Recycling Hotline at (707) 468‐9710.
Sonoma County: Recyclenow.org or call the Sonoma County Eco‐Desk at 565‐DESK (3375).

This article was authored by Sarah Dukett, of the County of Mendocino, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA (rrwatershed.org) is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.