Sustainable Holidays

The holiday season is finally here! It is time for parties and offering of gifts, which sometimes result in extra waste. According to the EPA blog, holiday food waste, shopping bags, or packaging items such as  ribbons and wrapping paper contribute an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. Rest assured, it is never too late to ensure that we reduce our waste while enjoying our festivities. Here are some tips to have an environmentally friendlier holiday season.

  • To avoid carbon emissions from multiple trips to the mall, plan ahead. By carefully planning your shopping trips, you can save time and fuel.


  • Before buying a gift, bring your reusable bags for your purchases and think about buying gifts with minimal to no packaging. When packaging is unavoidable, look for packaging that is recyclable or compostable.


  • Wrap gifts with recyclable materials or reuse packaging/shipping materials you might have. Also think about saving decorations items, wrapping paper, and ribbons for the next holiday season.


  • For greeting cards, buy cards made from recyclable materials or send electronic greeting cards.


  • Most artificial Christmas trees are imported from foreign countries which increase carbon emission, and most of them are non-recyclable, so they end-up in landfills. If you are thinking about buying an artificial one, make sure it is to be reused for future holiday seasons. On the other hand, real trees have a smaller carbon footprint and help tree farms business but also support our local forests. If buying a real tree, make sure it is FSC-certified (responsibly managed). Most real trees can be turned to mulch or be reused for other purposes. For example, potted trees can be replanted or donated to organizations that use them for conservation or habitat projects.


  • For your Christmas tree and outdoor decoration, choose energy-efficient Energy Star lighting with LED lights, and switch them off during the day when you are not home or at night when sleeping.


  • For gatherings or parties, use reusable dinnerware sets and compostable napkins.


  • Food waste is one of the main causes of deforestation, so plan your dinner parties ahead and know how much food you need. You can eat less meat or eat local / organic food, but also don’t forget to share any untouched leftovers with those who need them (homeless shelters or food banks) to avoid food waste.