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!
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
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 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
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!
Some more ways to reduce the amount of waste produced
Drive instead of fly. Flying creates more greenhouse gases than any other form of travel per person.
Bring your reusable shopping bags for all your holiday shopping needs!
Reduce Junk 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)
Tricky Items to Recycle During the Holidays
White Block Styrofoam
Ecocycle accepts clean, white block Styrofoam at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) at 6400 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO 80303
To recycle your Christmas tree, City of Boulder residents with curbside collection service should put their tree inside the compost cart if possible, even if the lid won't close. Otherwise, it's OK to put the tree next to the cart. Trees taller than 6 feet need to be cut into smaller pieces. But people without curbside compost collection can still take trees to the city's Yard Waste Dropoff site at Western Disposal, 5880 Butte Mill Road. Dropoff is free to city residents!
Check with your local waste hauler or recycler to see if they accept wrapping paper as recycling
- Wrapping paper is often made with heavy clays and dyes that make it non-recycable
- But during the holiday season, there is often a limited time where they accept wrapping paper
- You may have to keep it out of your normal recycling bin and take it to a special drop off
- If you can't avoid wrapping paper, see if you can recycle it during the holidays!