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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you go out shopping, bring your own tote bags and avoid coming home with an armload of plastic bags holding just one item.
  • 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)
  • 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!
  • 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.
In Boulder:
EcoCycle now accepts clean, white block foam at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (5030 "old" Pearl St., Boulder) at no charge for Boulder residents. Read more for guidelines, location, and hours at
To recycle your holiday tree, visit
Want More Info?
The Center for a New American Dream tops the charts with a thorough guide to "Simplify the Holidays".  Visit:
Coop America offers “Ten Ways to Green Your Holidays”
INFORM offers "Tips for a Cleaner, 'Greener' Holiday"

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

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

For more information on our Eco Mug program and where to save money check out the UCSU eco-mug website.

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

Get Thrifty... follow the Tour De Thrift: