- Eliminate using disposable plates, cups, napkins and silverware. If you do buy disposable products, look for ones with recycled content.
- Send holiday e-cards instead of paper greeting cards, or make sure the ones you buy have recycled content and are recyclable (keep it simple — don't buy cards with all the bells and whistles).
- Cook and serve holiday meals in pans/dishes that are reusable.
- Buy food items from the grocery store's bulk section when hosting holiday parties. Don't forget your reusable bags!
- Instead of buying new items for one-time use, consider borrowing or renting.
- Shop at thrift stores for unique gift items and holiday decorations.
- Buy gifts that will not end up in the landfill. Avoid single-use or disposable gifts.
- Compost your food scraps in your home compost system.
- Wrap gifts in reusable bags or use old maps, posters, sheet music, fabric scraps or paper bags in place of purchasing wrapping paper.
- When shipping, reuse packaging materials.
- Have simple, clearly marked recycling containers at your holiday party.
- Purchase food and drinks that come in recyclable packaging.
- Make sure recyclable containers are empty, clean and dry before recycling.
- If your holiday gifts include new electronic gadgets, drop-off old electronics for recycling. Search on Recycling A-Z for electronics recycling drop-off locations.
- Do not put cooking grease down the drain. Collect (cooled) grease in a plastic bottle and find drop-off locations for recycling on Recycling A-Z or put small quantities in the garbage.
- Defrost frozen items in the refrigerator, not under running water.
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwater.
- When washing dishes keep washing soap usage to a minimum. It helps reduce the amount of rinse water needed.
- Don’t run the kitchen faucet continuously while washing dishes.
- Let pots and pans soak instead of letting the water run while you clean them.
- Minimize the number of dishes used at holiday parties.
- Use water-conserving appliances.
- Make sure to turn off or unplug holiday lights when they are not in use. Add a timer to automatically adjust lights throughout the day.
- Be sure holiday decorations are not placed on or obstructing air vents.
- Use LED holiday lights. They use over 70% percent less energy and have longer lifespans than traditional holiday bulbs.
- If buying electronic gifts, purchase products that are energy star certified, or have equivalent low energy use.
- When baking for a large meal, plan baking times to avoid continuously reheating the oven.
- While cooking big meals, think ahead and keep the thermostat lower than usual. The heat from cooking will heat your house!
- Portion hot, leftover food into small, shallow containers before placing them into the refrigerator. This will help it cool faster, using less energy.
- Organize and clean your refrigerator. A neat, full refrigerator will run more efficiently than one that is packed with food.
- Shop locally to reduce the amount of energy used in shipping products, especially for food that requires refrigeration during transport.
Alternative gift ideas
- Give home-baked goodies in reusable containers like baskets, tins or jars.
- Make your own gifts! Build, knit, or craft meaningful DIY gifts.
- Give non-materialistic “green” gifts that do not require wrapping, such as gift certificates for massages, to restaurants, cooking classes, sailing lessons, etc. Theater, sporting event, concert or movie tickets are always appreciated. Experiences are remembered long after other presents wear out.
- Give a gift of time or talent. Take someone to a play, concert or movie. Make gift certificates for a special dinner, pet sitting or house cleaning. Offer your talents at gardening, photography or financial planning — or better yet, teach someone a skill you possess such as knitting, woodworking or playing an instrument.
- Make a charitable donation in the recipient’s name or give a membership to a museum, environmental or other nonprofit organization.
- Give fair trade coffee and teas or local and organic fruit and vegetable baskets.
- Give a compost bin, can crusher, water timer, programmable thermostat, rain barrel, house plant, bird feeder, light timers or bat house.
- Purchase items that are durable and repairable.
- Purchase products made with recycled material.