Tips for a Sustainable Holiday

'Tis the season to be festive and the City encourages everyone to think about celebrating in a sustainable way, with less environmental impact.

Less Means More

It makes sense to purchase less during the holidays. While a gift represents a thoughtful gesture, the same sentiment can be expressed in more sustainable ways. Consider exchanging time or experiences instead of gifts. Or, since the holiday season can be difficult for some individuals and families, make a socially sustainable donation to a local charity. Fewer gifts means more green, both financially and environmentally - try the Merry Memory Maker app to get suggestions for experiences and things in all price ranges.

Get more tips on creating memories, not garbage, at

Green Gift Giving

  • Sustainable gifts come in many forms. Locally made products help reduce the negative impacts of transportation and greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Look for something unique made from sustainable resources and recycled materials. Try choosing toys that do not require batteries. 
  • Etiquette aside, re-gifting is also a sustainable way to get rid of something others may find more useful.
  • Consider giving an experience, such as tickets to a play, concert, or sporting event that you can attend together. 

Wrapping Gifts

  • Reuse wrapping paper or find creative alternatives like reusable festive fabrics or kraft paper bags with compostable decorations. 
  • Avoid non-recyclable ribbons, and instead decorate your gifts with sprigs of green, pine cones, or holly.
  • Avoid wrapping paper with a glossy or metallic coating - it can’t be recycled. Look for wrapping made from recycled paper and use tape as little as possible.
  • Use gift bags, which come in all shapes and sizes and can be reused.

Holiday Decorations & Lighting

  • Make garlands from popcorn, pine cones, cranberries, dried orange or cloves.
  • Seasonal accessories like evergreen branches tucked behind picture frames can have a big impact. Toss them in your yard waste after the holidays!
  • Choose LED instead of incandescent. LED lights add holiday sparkle without draining natural resources or your budget. 
  • Create smaller outdoor light displays, which can be both attractive and energy efficient. 
  • Use a timer or turn off your decorative holiday lights during the day and at bedtime.

Heating & Energy Use

  • Turn down the heat when you’re out celebrating the holidays. If you'll be away for longer periods of time, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat.
  • Put on your cozy holiday sweater instead of turning the heat up, and turn on lights only when necessary.
  • Use drapes to help control the temperature: open them on sunny winter days to take advantage of passive solar heating and close them when it's cold to help trap heat inside.
  • Make large batches of food - it's more efficient to turn on a stove once for cooking, then warming up smaller prepared meals.
Christmas Recycling Tips
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