Reduce Waste This Holiday Season with These Simple Tips

Winter is full of great traditional celebrations and family gathering, often accompanied by ample food, gifts, and special decorations. That doesn’t mean you need to increase your waste this holiday season, though. Take a look at this brief guide and see how these tips can help you make your occasions a little more eco-friendly.


As many people’s holiday traditions involve exchanging gifts, it’s hard to not fall into the trap of buying trinkets and gifts in loads of packaging and then wrapping them in exiting papers and bags. Some may say that wrapping paper isn’t that wasteful because you can always recycle it. That’s not necessarily true though, as many recycling facilities won’t accept wrapping paper that is metallic, glittery, felted, or has tape attached to it. So, basically, if it’s cute paper, it’s not recyclable. You could circumvent the wrapping waste altogether by giving a gift of experience, or you could get creative with reusable bags, fabric, plain paper, and upcycled materials.



The holidays can be filled with amazing meals, delicious desserts, and more leftovers than we know what to do with, but according to the National Resources Defense Council, 40% of food in America goes to waste. Celebrations are characterized by excessive amounts of food, but this can often mean that much of it goes uneaten, discarded into the trash to be sent to a landfill. Take steps to reduce your food waste before you even start cooking by using this easy Guest-imator to predict how much food you’ll need to feed guests. This will help you plan your shopping, but also could save you money by allowing you to buy the perfect amount of food. You can even customize it to account for special family recipes!


Once you’ve got your gorgeous meal, you’re still likely to have leftovers. Encourage people to bring tupperware or bring your own, if you’re the guest. Is it weird to bring to-go container to a dinner? Maybe some would think that. But if you stick it in a bag and whip it out later, your aunt will probably be relieved that she doesn’t have to send you home with her own tupperware.



One of the most exciting ways to get in the holiday spirit is by decorating our homes and living spaces. These decorations often break, get thrown away, or are made of materials that won’t degrade for decades. Consider, instead, making your own decor or upcycling things you already have. Most thrift stores also put out their holiday items around this time of year, so begin your search there if you don’t want to give up traditional decorations (they’ll be a lot cheaper, too). If purchasing new items, keep in mind what material they’re made of. You can opt for paper garlands, wooden dreidels, or beeswax candles. Or make your own! Here are a few great examples of DIY and upcycling decorations.


For people whose traditions include a tree, there are plenty of great opportunities to reduce waste. Whether live or plastic trees are more sustainable is a topic of lively debate, but if you’re partial to a live tree, look for a place near you that composts or mulches trees. Some places will even come to pick the tree up from your home. In lieu of a more eco-friendly tree option, take a look at this beautiful DIY option that is great for people who live in apartments too small for a tree.


Need some more inspiration? Check out #zerowasteholidays on Instagram.