Reduce and Reuse

Reduce and Reuse

Greening the Holidays: Facts and Tips for a Less Wasteful Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from the CU Environmental Center!  Here’s a checklist of simple things you can do to reduce waste while you eat, drink, and make merry this holiday season!


  • Americans throw away about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.  The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.
  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • It takes an average of 6 months for a credit card user to pay off their holiday debt. Reduce your debt while reducing your environmental footprint by reusing! 
  • Wrapping paper: is often used once and thrown away. Try using colorful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes. Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes. If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper. Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows. Finally, unwrap gifts carefully and save wrappings for reuse next year.
  • Gift Selection: If you buy gifts, look for durable and re-usable items and resist the latest "fad" at the mall. Think of how many pet rocks, mood rings, and cabbage patch dolls ended up in the landfill!
  • Green Gifts: Look for gifts with an environmental message: a nature book, a refillable thermos bottle, a canvas tote bag, a battery recharger or items made from recycled materials. Choose solar powered instead of battery powered products. Or better yet, ones that require no power at all.
  • Homemade Gifts: Other environmentally-smart gifts include homemade ones: homebaked cookies, bread or jams, a plant or tree. Ones that don't create any waste at all: concert or movie tickets, dinner at a restaurant, or an IOU to help rake leaves or repair a leaky faucet. Ones that get "used up": candles, soap, or seeds for next year's garden.
  • Bags: If you go out shopping, bring your own tote bags and avoid coming home with an armload of plastic bags holding just one item. 
  • Mail: You are probably receiving piles of mail order catalogs at this time of year. Call the company's 800 number and ask that you be removed from their mailing list. Fortunately, magazines and catalogs can be recycled on campus and at local recycling centers. (Recycling)
  • Cards: If you send holiday cards, look for ones made of recycled paper. Avoid cards with glossy, shiny or gold foil coatings since these cannot be recycled. Save the cards that you get in the mail, cut off the front pictures, and reuse as "postcards" next year. This saves on postage too. Or, send ''electronic cards'' or make a phone call instead!
  • Tree Decor: For tree trimmings, try edible or compostable items like popcorn or cranberries on a string, gingerbread cookies or items made from "found" objects around your home.
Local Resources: 
          General Resources: 


          Using a reusable mug when you get your hot drink is a small action that collectively has a big impact.

          "If only 15 percent of US college students used reusable mugs instead of disposable cups every day, we would eliminate more than a billion cups a year." -The Earth Works Group

          Every year the CU Environmental Center gives out over 500 reusable 'eco-mugs' to first year students in the dining halls as part of our campaign to end the disposable mentality on campus!

          When you use your reusable mug on campus and in the community you will save money.



          • "Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil  annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for  transportation"-Pacific Institute

          Get Thrifty Locally

          EcoCycle provides a great list of resources for REUSE in Boulder County: 

          We need to CU reusing! You can reuse in two general ways: 

          • Before you head to the store to buy something new, check thrift shops and online exchange sites. 
          • Instead of throwing your old items out, donate them or sell them secondhand.
          These two actions will save the Earth while saving you money! Lucky for you, Boulder has plenty of resources to help you reuse. Thrift stores aren't all clothes and furniture- you can reuse almost anything around here!
          • Art Parts Creative Reuse Center: Used/reusable industry surplus, office supplies, art supplies and many other materials are "upcycled" or repurposed here, to sell at 30-90% off or as a new item altogether! Donate materials or pick up something cool. 
          • Hazardous Materials Management Facility: This facility is part of Boulder County Recycling Facility, and offers FREE materials for Boulder residents. Come by and donate or pick up:
            • Auto and hobby products
            • Garden and yard products
            • Home maintenance and cleaning products
            • Latex Paint
            • Oil-based Paint
          • CU Boulder: Here at CU we offer plenty of opportunities to reuse. In the beginning of the semester, keep an eye out for our "Reclaimed Office Supplies Giveaway", where you can get free, good-as-new notebooks and other school supplies. At the end of the year, we collect reusable items from move-out, and donate it to Goodwill. Donate your futon, clothes, food, lamps, etc.! 
          Get Thrifty... For all other secondhand Boulder locations, follow the Tour De Thrift:

          Why Should We Reduce?

          • CLIMATE CHANGE
            • Lower the frequency of natural disasters that are affecting our communities internationally. 
            • Lessen the impact to our agriculture and fresh water locations.
            • Protect endangered species.
            • If an object is not bought in the first place then the energy it takes for an item to be shipped, processed and recycled is not needed.  Think about how much energy it takes for an item to be created and disposed of before buying it. 
            • You can save money by taking a reusable mug to select coffee shops and get a discount on your morning coffee! To learn more visit the "Mugs, Bottles and Bags" page located above. 
            • Also save money by shopping second hand, then recycle your old clothes for someone else to use. 
            • Save money by finding a trash service that will let you pay based on the size of the trash bin you are provided, and give you composting and recycling bins for free!
            • Landfills create water pollution when the trash is saturated with water and certain particles cannot be removed through a water treatment process. This is dangerous to the surrounding communities because their drinking water is contaminated. 
            • Air pollution is created through the natural gasses that are released from the decay of materials. Being surrounded by these toxic gases can be a factor in lung and heart complications. 
          • REDUCE E-WASTE
            • Try upgrading, restoring or repairing your old electronics to make them work as if they were new. 
            • By recycling your electronic waste, you are able to use the metals to create something new instead of throwing them away. 
            • There are many metals that can be salvaged and reused, such as aluminum, gold, silver, copper and iron. 
            • Also try to shop secondhand.