December 04, 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year -for garbage. It’s no surprise anymore that the months surrounding Christmas are also the months we produce the most waste. According to Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, Canadians throw out 540,000 tons of wrapping paper and gift bags each year. As well, Americans throw away 25% more trash than any other time of year - equating to an extra 1 million tons a week. 

Here's a somber statistic - if every American family reused two feet of ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. 

Statistics found at

If we continue to produce waste as fast as we are, the effects it will have on our environment will be detrimental. However, if everyone this holiday season could incorporate some or all of these helpful tips on reducing their waste - we may have a chance yet! Below are some great tips on how to reduce as much waste as possible during the holidays.

Use Recyclable Paper to Wrap Gifts

A lot of wrapping paper can be recycled, but there are also a lot that can’t - especially the fancy kind with velvet, foil or glitter. Don’t fret - there’s an alternative. Wrapping small gifts in newspaper is not only an eco-friendly option, it’s also aesthetically pleasing (bonus!). Have a larger gift that needs wrapping? Using a roll of recyclable brown craft paper is also a great option! Another bonus - you can decorate the paper with markers or stamps to give it your own unique flair. If you wanted to get off the wrapping paper trend altogether, using baskets or boxes that can be reused are great substitutes to wrapping paper.  

Re-use/ Save Ribbon 

Referring back to that sobering statistic above - reuse/save your ribbon! Keeping a small box in the back of your linen closet full of holiday ribbon is a great precedent to set for yourself and family. When you open a gift with a beautiful ribbon, save it and then next year - use it! An alternative to regular ribbon is also to find a sustainable cloth ribbon. Either way - let’s all agree to let go of plastic bows!

Properly Dispose of your Christmas Tree

Too manyChristmas trees are not disposed of properly after the holiday has ended. Every time a tree is sent to the landfill instead of being properly composted, it can release methane. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and as you may have guessed,notgood for the environment. This year, if you choose to have a live tree, ensure to responsibly dispose of it after its use. Another option would be to buy a reusable Christmas tree - which you can reuse year after year! 

Don’t Toss your Leftovers

Food waste gets exponentially higher during the holidays. How can you avoid this? Your Christmas dinner leftovers could have so many different uses - here’s a few. If you have a generous amount of mashed potatoes left, they’d make the perfect topper for shepherds pie. Extra veggies? Whip up a risotto! Leftover turkey is so versatile (and so much more than turkey sandwiches). Turkey bones make for great soup stock, leftover meat can be used in stir fries, salads, stews and much more!

Read the Recycling Labels 

Did you know that not all items with a recycling label canactuallybe recycled? The recycle symbol we all know and love merely indicates that an object is capable of being recycled, not that it will be accepted in collection systems. Here's the trick - look for the number inside the symbol. Numbers 1, 2, & 4 are easily recyclable materials! Numbers 3 & 6 are a lot more difficult and unable to be filtered properly. As for number 5, be sure to call your local recycling collection facility to see what your options are. 

Information provided by has great information on what those numbers mean! 

Gift Something Other than “Things” 

There are a number of things you can gift this Christmas that go beyond material things, such as: 

  • Experiences. Concert or sports tickets, a trip to the local art gallery, visiting the theatre are all great experience options. 
  • Gift cards. For restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores and more!
  • Memberships. To the yoga studio your sister always talks about, or for a video game your brother loves - memberships are a great alternative! 
  • Homemade goodies. Who doesn’t love a basket full of baked goods? Make some holiday cookies or brownies for your loved ones this Christmas - attach the recipe for an extra special touch. 
  • Planting trees! For the environmentalists in your life - give the gift of trees!  Click here to learn more.

Send an E-Card 

If you're trying to keep the environment in mind this holiday season, sending an E-Card or making a phone call is a great start. According to, the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the United States could fill a football field 10 stories high. Sending an electronic version of your Christmas card could save thousands cubic yards of paper. If sending a Christmas card is a tradition of yours, ensure to grab cards that are 100% recyclable - skip the gold foil, extra plastic or battery filled cards. 

There you have it folks - some easy tips to lessen your waste this season! Did we forget something on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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