Call It a Wrap on Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper is mostly clay and has very little paper fiber content, so paper recycling markets are not a fan of the stuff, making it very difficult to recycle. But there are some great recyclable and reusable alternatives! The easiest is to just go for paper gift bags instead of wrapping paper. They’re reusable, so when you get a gift in a paper gift bag, keep it for next season. Once it’s worn out or ripped, it’s fully recyclable in your curbside recycling cart. You can also get creative and use other recyclable options like maps, blueprints, posters, newspaper, or reusable options such as fabric, pillowcases, or tea towels. If you are shipping gifts, replace foam or bubble wrap with balled-up, recyclable paper.
Make Holiday Gatherings Zero Waste
Instead of disposable tableware, serve food on reusable dishware. Borrow dish sets and glassware from friends or go thrift store shopping for a special holiday set! Decorate the table with foraged greenery, gourds and squash, bowls full of apples, or other seasonal fruits and veggies.
Think Outside the Gift Box
There’s so much pressure to give “stuff” for the holidays, but there are some approaches to giving that may bring more joy and meaning with less waste and environmental impact. Instead of buying new products for your loved ones, give the gift of an experience (such as a membership or tickets to an event), make a donation to a nonprofit in their name, or gift a subscription to an online course. Something edible like a dessert or snack packaged in a reusable jar also makes a great gift! Or, give the gift of your talents, like organizing, sewing, repairing, cooking, and gardening! Finally, if you are going to buy new items for your loved ones, consider gifting them products that will help reduce waste, such as reusable water bottles, mugs, straws, and to-go containers.
Fight Food Waste
In the US, up to 40% of food is thrown out, wasting all the water and energy used to grow and transport that food. You can significantly reduce your household’s food waste by planning your meals, buying the right quantity, and storing produce properly to keep it fresh!
Try using a food calculator—like NRDC’s Save the Food Guest-imator – to help you figure out how much food you will actually need to make in order to feed your guests, and reduce your food waste!
Have leftover fresh ingredients after you prepare your meal? Check out this food storage guide to find out how to keep your food fresh for longer! You can also save bones, carrot peels, celery tops, and potato peels to boil and create your own vegetable stock. Add overripe fruits and veggies to smoothies, or bake fruit into cobblers and veggies into casseroles. Check out these recipes for more inspiration on how to use up your scraps and past-prime food items!