Garbage & recycling tips for the holidays

The holidays are a time for giving, but did you know that more waste is generated during this season than at any other time of year? Here are some tips on how to give, decorate, and entertain during the holiday season while still keeping the environment in mind.

A hierarchy of gift giving options is presented in the shape of a Christmas Tree

Reduce waste during the holidays

Think outside the gift box

Here are some great gift ideas that help reduce waste:

  • Tickets to a play, concert, or sporting event
  • Gift certificate for dinner, club membership, or a spa treatment
  • Services like babysitting, breakfast in bed, or a piano lesson
  • Homemade cookies or bread, jams or preserves
  • Reusable food containers or lunch bags
  • Donation to an environmental organization or charity
  • Diaper service
  • Reusable coffee mug
  • Environmentally friendly bath and beauty products

Gift wrap, cards and tags

  • Make the wrapping part of the gift
    • Baskets, glass jar, cookie tin, reusable gift bag, tea towels
  • Use comics, old maps, or last year's wrapping/tissue paper
  • Decorate newsprint or scrap paper with rubber stamps, paint, or potato stamps
  • Use old gift wrap and cards to make gift tags
  • Decorate old shoe boxes
  • Decorate gifts with pine cones, dried berries, or flowers


  • If you choose to use artificial, buy a quality reusable Christmas tree and decorations that will last
  • Use potted plants that will bring enjoyment after the holidays
  • Make decorations from reusable or compostable materials
    • Garland using popcorn and berries


  • Use reusable plates and cutlery when entertaining
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  • If you must use disposable plates, choose paper which can go in the green cart for composting


  • Reuse cardboard boxes for mailing gifts
  • Use newspaper instead of Styrofoam packing chips
  • Mailing gift certificates or tickets will save on packaging and postage
  • Call or email invitations to party guests instead of sending paper invitations
  • Send ecards instead of paper cards

After the holidays

  • Natural Christmas trees will be picked up on your regular green cart collection day/week. Remove all plastic, tinsel, ornaments, metal rings, nails, stands and plastic tree bags.
  • Compost or mulch your greenery (boughs, trees, natural garland, etc.)
  • Wreaths with metal wires or plastic cord go in a clear garbage bag
  • Paper gift wrap and boxboard (cereal-type boxes) can be recycled in a retail/grocery bag, or a clear bag with your other paper recycling
  • Foil wrap, gift bags, bows, and ribbon that are no longer able to be reused go in the garbage
  • Corrugated cardboard is bundled and placed next to paper recycling
  • Save gift wrap, bows, ribbons, cards etc. for use next year
  • Give old toys and clothing to a charitable organization instead of throwing them away