Happy Holidays from the CU Environmental Center!  Here we have some simple things you can do to reduce waste while you eat, drink, and make merry this holiday season!

christmas tree gifts

Some Holiday Facts to Keep in Mind

The truth about the holiday season is about 25% more trash is generated by Americans between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. This means an extra 25 million tons of waste is created, or about 1 million extra tons per week. Here are some ways to fix this issue:

Green Gift Ideas

Experiences make great gifts!

  • Concert tickets
  • Coffee, lunch, dinner
  • Airbnb or Hotel rental
  • Hot Springs or Spa time
  • Get creative to spend time with others

Give durable items that will last!

  • Avoid items that will likely go out of style or lose “trendiness” soon after they’re bought.
  • Kitchen, bathroom, and house necessities
  • Timeless, high quality shoes (Dr. Martens or LL Bean boots are good options)
  • Clothing and bedding always come in handy
  • Think of how many pet rocks, mood rings, and cabbage patch dolls ended up in the landfill!

Gifts you can enjoy, use, and grow!

  • Gift a plant! 
  • Gift something that gets “used up,” such as candles, soap, and makeup.
  • Just make sure to avoid too much plastic packaging and look for environmentally friendly brands.


Gifts that Reduce Waste

Enable Reuse in other people's lives with:

  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Reusable utensil kits
  • Reusable straws
  • Tupperware

Books are great gifts!

  • Books will last a long time
  • Books can be shared or given to others when done reading
  • Books can be donated and reused

Rechargeable Electronics

  • Rechargeable batteries reduce battery waste
  • USB charging devices eleminate standard battery waste
  • Bluetooth speakers, headphones, computer accessories that can be recharged
  • Headlamps and other small electronics with USB charinging are great

Homemade Gift Ideas

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.

Eco-Friendly Wrapping Ideas

Use newspaper comics or an interesting article as a substitute for traditional wrapping paper

Use scrap fabric to wrap gifts

Instead of paper gift bags, use cloth tote bags for gifts that can be reused year after year

If you do want to use traditional wrapping paper, look for one made from recycled material

  • Try using colorful pages torn from magazines to wrap small gifts
  • Use old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes.
  • Reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes

Sustainable Decorations

Use a live christmas tree instead of a plastic one. Live christmas tree farms take up carbon dioxide, stabilize soil, and protect water supplies. 

Create your own decorations using compostable items. Stringed cranberries or popcorn make great tree trimmings and gingerbread houses are always fun decorations to make!

Switch to LED christmas lights. LED lights use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent lights. 


Green Greeting 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!