Planning for a Sustainable Holiday Season: Tips and Tricks


5 Tips For Planning A Sustainable Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us! Between days off from work, spending time with family and friends, and great food, these last weeks of the year are often some of the fullest.

Unfortunately, this season can also be a time of extra waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day the volume of household waste increases by a shocking 25%. It’s a sobering side to the holidays.

In addition to all that you’re already doing to decrease your environmental footprint, beyond the usual recycling and composting, here are some ways to cut back on waste this season, and keep your holidays a little more green.

holiday food waste

Consider Reusable Party Supplies

Hosting a soiree at your home? It can be tempting to stock up on plastic cutlery and cups–so much more convenient. Instead, visit a local thrift store to find an assortment of forks, knives, and spoons for the event. You’ll be sure to find a variety of glasses and mugs, too, and it’s very stylish to be mismatched with glassware these days. Cut up an old tablecloth for napkins and avoid the too-small, too-wasteful squares of paper.

And don’t worry. A full dishwasher is more efficient than washing all those dishes by hand.

Re-gifting or Repurposing

Search your house for unique items that have been gathering dust in boxes and turn them into a thoughtful gift. A teacup with matching saucer for the friend who’s always ready to chat over a hot beverage, or something from a craft fair that you never used for a hostess gift.

You can even think of ways to make new pieces from old materials. Cute picture frames that never got new glass can become jewelry organizers, for instance.

Stay tuned for the annual Saturn gift guide, with more sustainable gift ideas every year.

rent a christmas tree

Try a Living Tree

If your family celebrates the holidays with a Christmas tree, the struggle to be sustainable can be vying with the clear superiority of a real live spruce or fir. A local Bay Area business has the solution: Rent a Living Christmas Tree will deliver a potted tree to many homes across the San Francisco South Bay, parts of the East Bay, and in the Santa Cruz area. Keep your tree for December and they will come pick it up in January. No waste, and a fresh tree for the holidays!

Creative Wrapping

Wrapping paper can be a major source of waste over the holidays… But the cheerful package is part of the fun! See how creative you can get while wrapping gifts:

  • Use old magazines that you don’t plan on reading again. More colorful than newspaper, and comes with a comic or cityscape.
  • Include a cute, reusable shopping bag for a 2-in-1 gift where the present is the package!
  • Find festive fabric in the form of old tablecloths or ripped clothing at the thrift store for a reusable wrapping.
  • Collect cardboard boxes over the next few weeks and nest smaller ones inside bigger ones for a hidden, sneaky package.
  • When nothing else will do, look for recycled wrapping paper, made from old newspaper print or other paper.

Minimize Food Waste

We call it Big Food Day for a reason: it’s chock full with some of our favorite foods and most sentimental recipes. Sweet potato casserole, green beans, cornbread, stuffing (without needing to ‘stuff’), and more dishes that are wholly unique to you. But the tendency can be to go big for this holiday, with several times more food than we would expect for any other meal. The rallying cry reason for this is “Leftovers!” and we don’t want those to be forgotten. As you’re cooking or ordering your Thanksgiving or other holiday meals this year, be sure to order a manageable amount for you and your guests to enjoy without any going to waste.

However you celebrate the coming holiday season, consider these tips to keep your household from being one of the ones that increases waste by 25%. And most of all, have a joyous time with those you love.

What are your top tips for keeping your holidays green? We’d love to hear your secrets!