Published: Nov. 3, 2021 By

We are quickly approaching the most wonderful time of year! However, the average American throws away 25% more trash during Thanksgiving to New Years. That is a lot of trash that amounts to 25 million tons of trash. If you are reading this, you likely already want to reduce your impact on that extra garbage, which is the perfect first step! The rest of this article will outline the next steps that you can take to reduce your waste, because every person counts!

Shopping for Presents

  • Check out this list of resources for zero waste gift ideas!

  • Buy your presents in person! Shipping almost always produces more waste because the item that you have purchased must be shipped in some form of packaging. This is easily mitigated by buying your presents in person! 

  • Buy from minimal packaging companies. If you must buy online, buy from companies that will ship with as little packaging as possible, and with recyclable packaging. 

    • Package Free is a great example of a company like this! 

    • Check out this article for some more ideas of places to buy gifts from.  

  • Buy presents that aren’t necessarily material goods, like concert tickets! In other words, buy experiences rather than items. 

  • Vote with your dollar : buy from companies that are promoting sustainability, and working to be more sustainable themselves. This helps to encourage companies doing good things, to continue doing them!

  • Buy items that are made of recycled materials. Buying gifts that are made of recycled material dramatically reduces the amount of materials and energy that goes into making them, compared to gifts made from virgin materials. 

  • Bring reusable shopping bags when buying presents. While its a good habit to get into all the time, be sure to bring those reusable bags when you go shopping for gifts to limit the waste you create! 

  • Give gifts that reduce waste! A good example of this is a reusable water bottle. Not only do they get a cool water bottle, it will give them a reusable option, hopefully limiting their waste!


  • Traditional wrapping paper is not recyclable, so it's important to use other items to wrap your special gifts!

    • If you live in Boulder, EcoCycle does pick up wrapping paper for a select time. Check out this article for more information along with information about other hard to recycle items!

  • Wrap with newspaper

  • Wrap with paper bags from the grocery store 

  • Wrap using old t-shirts or scrap fabric

  • Use twine and flowers or pieces of your christmas tree to decorate after wrapping. 

  • Use a reusable wrapping paper like a wrapping bag 

    • There are lots of small businesses on Etsy with great options for this!  

  • If you want to send a greeting card, send one that has been made with recycled paper. Be sure to avoid shiny cards as they are hard to recycle.    

    • Even better, skip the card and give them a phone call! 

  • For more wrapping ideas check out this article 

Food Waste

  • Only buy what you need (and plan that in advance)

    • Before you go grocery shopping, plan out exactly what you will be making, what you already have, and what you actually need. This way, you won’t buy too much of any one thing so as to limit your food waste. 

    • If you do accidentally buy extra, donate it! That way you get to help people, in the true spirit of the holiday season, and your extra food does not end up in the landfill. 

  • Save your leftovers in tupperware! 

    • My personal favorite is to save in glass tupperware because if I have something that is particularly smelly, the glass will not soak up that smell, whereas plastic tupperware sometimes will. 

    • Leftovers can be saved and eaten the following days to make some delicious turkey sandwiches and so many other meals, get creative! 

  • If you have some food that you saved, but has now gone bad, be sure to compost it rather than throwing it in the landfill. 

    • If you don’t already have a compost bin, check out this  article for how to start your own backyard compost. 

  • Check out this article for tips on what to do with your leftovers and extra food! 

Entertaining Guests

  • Be sure to serve your meals using reusable plates/bowls and utensils! 

  • Decorate using plants, and other compostable or reusable items 

    • If you are putting up a Christmas tree, get a used one in a pot! This way you can keep it year round and you never have to get rid of it! 

    • Use a live tree rather than a plastic tree to avoid the extra production of plastic 

    • If you get a live tree, be sure to compost it when the holiday season is over!

  • Put up LED lights 

    • If you want to put up lights, be sure to use lights that use LED bulbs to save energy

    • Also be sure to turn off the lights when it's light out and when you are sleeping to save energy!