Holiday Waste Reduction

The holidays are a time we celebrate with family, friends and food. It’s also a time we forget how much energy we use and how much we throw away as a part of the season’s festivities. This year, start a new tradition of using less energy and generating less waste.

Energy Consumption

Changes large and small can make a big impact on your overall energy consumption.

  • Use up to 90% less energy by replacing incandescent holiday lights with energy-efficient LED lights.
  • Plug holiday decorations into power strips that can be easily turned off when not in use. Even when lights and electronics aren’t turned on, they still draw energy if not completely unplugged. Another option is to use a “smart” power strip for electronics or a timer to limit the time the lights are on.
  • If you plan to do holiday baking, remember, it takes the same amount of energy to heat a full oven as it does to heat a nearly empty one, so bake several dishes at a time. For smaller cooking tasks, use appliances such as slow cookers, microwaves and toaster ovens in place of the stove cooktop to reduce energy use.
family gathering during the holidays


Holiday celebrations often mean an abundance of leftover food and materials that are thrown into the trash.

  • Opting for reusable plates, cutlery and napkins will cut down on waste this time of year.
  • If you’re planning to send folks home with leftovers, consider visiting thrift stores and picking out inexpensive tupperware or cookware to send home with your guests so you can cut down on single use plastic bags and containers.
  • ‘Tis the season for composting! Collect vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, tea and coffee grounds and filters for the compost cart.

Christmas Trees

No matter how early you like to put up your tree, it's important to know the proper way to dispose of it.

  • Real trees can be put into your compost cart. Remember to remove lights, ornaments, tinsel and stand. Cut the tree into 4-foot lengths or shorter before placing it into the cart. Short lengths allow the tree to easily come out of the cart when it is empty.
  • Wreaths and trees sprayed with artificial snow (flock) cannot be accepted and must be thrown in the trash.
  • If the cart is full, place tree bundles weighing less than 60 pounds next to the cart.

Gift Giving

While artfully wrapped gifts are a staple over the holidays, reconsider what wrapping to use and the gifts you give.

  • Rethink the gift. Movie, theater and sports tickets, zoo memberships or dining gift cards make great gifts. Plus, they don’t require wrapping paper, ribbons or bows.
  • Consider sending e-cards or holiday cards made with recycled paper. Avoid glossy, glitter or foil-coated cards as these cannot by recycled.
  • When possible, buy gifts with little or no packaging. Put gifts in reusable containers or wrap them in fabric. Reuse boxes, bags, paper and bows saved from last season.

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