Generate Less Waste During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, celebration, and (unfortunately) waste! During this time we generate more food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper and ribbons than we do other times of the year. According to, approximately 1 million tons of additional garbage is created each week, nationwide!

Greener Gift Ideas

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  • Book of your family history or life memories.
  • Scrapbook filled with memories of a special event.
  • Family recipe book.
  • Refurbished old tricycle, toy rocking chair, etc. to pass along as an heirloom.
  • Savings account, college 529 Plan or Education IRA for a child.
  • A wish list, created by our children, of activities they want to do as a family over the holidays—then give those experiences as a present.

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  • Bus passes, state park and annual permit.
  • Registration to classes/camps at the local nature center, zoo or museum.
  • Sport team or activity registration costs.
  • Music lessons or cooking classes.
  • Tickets for a sporting event, garden show, theater production or concert.
  • Membership to a museum, zoo, gym, golf club.
  • Personal “coupons,” such as a night off from dish duty, foot massage, breakfast in bed.
  • Free baby-sitting.

Gift Wrapping:

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Try a Different Approach

  • A “Hollywood box”: individually wrap the top and bottom of a box with a separate lid, Great for reuse.
  • A present in a present. Example: toy bricks in a plastic storage box, cookbook in a cake pan.
  • Gift wrap made from recycled paper.

Instead of buying new packing materials, use:

  • Used packing peanuts or bubble wrap from previous gifts. Clean, unwanted packing peanuts are also accepted by many packaging stores for reuse.
  • Crumpled ads from the newspaper make great packing material. The ink on glossy paper won’t smear like the rest of the newspaper.

Instead of buying new bow:

  • Reuse bows and gift tags from year to year.
  • Use small parts of the gift, like hair bows, ornaments, socks or small toys to decorate the box top.
  • Use small items such as cookie cutters or kitchen utensils for package decoration.
  • Leave the top of the package un-decorated.

Energy Saving

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  • Programmable thermostat.
  • Solar or LED yard lights.
  • Bicycle, accessories or bike trailer.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs.

 Waste Reducing

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  • Gift cards – try a local reuse shop.
  • Durable toys.
  • Solar watch or calculator.
  • Rechargeable batteries to go with electronic toys given.
  • Durable, quality hand or rechargeable tools.
  • Gift basket filled with nontoxic household cleaners.
  • Recycling bins to help recycle inside their home office, bathroom, and kitchen.
  • Cloth shopping bags, place mats, napkins.
  • Donation to a local charity or non-profit in the name of the recipient.
  • Gifts from antique stores, estate sales or flea markets. Know the store’s return policy.

Use Your Imagination!

Before you throw anything away, ask yourself:

  • Could it be fixed or repaired?
  • Could someone else use it?
  • Could it be recycled?
  • Would it have to be disposed of as a household hazardous waste?

 After Any Celebration

  • Reuse gift wrapping materials for the next celebration or for kids’ art projects.
  • Recycle your tree. Call 768-3133 for recycling information.
  • If you can’t return an unwanted gift, give it to a local charity.
  • Don’t be afraid to donate decorations that you don’t use anymore.

 Green Resolutions for the Whole Year

  • Use only cloth cleaning towels.
  • Install water-saving devices in your toilet and shower.
  • Walk or bicycle more.
  • Use cloth shopping bags when visiting any type of retailer, not just the grocery store. Keeping reusable shopping bags in your car so they are always handy.
  • Use a washable mug or glass at work.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent lights to save energy.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night.
  • Recycle even more bottles, cans, paper, plastic, and cardboard. Make sure to recycle items from your bathroom, laundry room and home office as well.
  • Buy recycled products when possible.
  • Compost.
  • Reduce use of hazardous household products.

If you have questions, call 768-1622 or come visit the Nature Center located at 30 Harkins Slough Rd. and see the Holiday display on how to generate less waste during the holidays!

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2016 at 8:07 am and is filed under City of Watsonville, Homepage News, Public Works . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.