Holiday waste reduction

Trimming the tree

When it comes to trees, you have plenty of beautiful options. With live trees you can have a tree to enjoy year-round. Ask your local nursery which trees grow best in your area. Artificial trees are cost effective and they can be reused year after year. Cut trees are beautiful. But remember, they take up valuable landfill space, so be sure to have yours composted. Click here for tree recycling information.

wrapping presents

For gift wrapping, you can start your own recycling program. Use old posters, comics, colorful shopping bags, even old maps. When you receive gifts, be sure to save the ribbons and bows.

Before opening all those wrapped packages, here are a few hints to get you through the mountains of ribbon, stuffing, and wrapping.

  • Set a box aside to collect the reusable ribbons, bows, and other package decorations to use for next year.

  • Most gifts boxes can be flattened and reused throughout the year for other items. Recycle boxes that can't be reused.

  • With all the excitement, people usually tear through the gift wrap, so set aside a large box or bag to collect the torn gift wrap. If there are large uncrumpled pieces of wrap, consider using those pieces for wrapping future gifts. Most wrapping paper can be recycled. NRWS accepts all types of wrapping paper in their curbside recycling cart. If you have to much to fit in your cart, you can always bring it down to our Recycling Center at 920 American Way.

    Caution: Before taking the bag of used gift wrap out to the recycling can, check to make sure toy or game parts have not been accidentally dropped in the bag.
  • Drop off extra packaging materials at local private mailing centers (i.e. UPS).

  • Put this year's Christmas cards away to cut up and use as gift tags for next year's gifts.

  • Got a new microwave, toaster, clock radio, toy, or coat? Consider giving away your old appliances, toys, games, or clothing to a local charity or thrift store.

  • Before you throw away or recycle all of those gift catalogs, take a minute to pick out the ones you don't want to receive anymore. Call their toll-free numbers now and ask to get off their list.

  • If you bought a live Christmas tree, be sure to plant it. Or consider donating it a local school or nursing home to plant on their grounds.

  • If you bought a cut tree, remove all decorations including tinsel and lights before recycling.

no waste gift ideas

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how to have a wonderful, gift-giving holiday season and still be earth friendly.

  • Not sure what to get someone? How about a gift certificate? That way, you know the gift will be kept.

  • Make gifts. Everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal or baked goodies.

  • Consider nonmaterial gifts. Tickets to a sporting event, movie, play, or concert are a real treat! Or make a
    charitable donation in someone's name.

  • When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags.

  • Think durable! Consider how long an item will last before you make a purchase. Often, a cheaper item will wear out long before its more durable equivalent.

  • And, always remember to look for items made with recycled content.

no waste gift wrapping ideas

  • Wrap the gift in a drawstring bag and use an inexpensive luggage tag for the gift tag.

  • Decorate oversized gifts with just a bow that can be used again.

  • Put toy animals in a cowboy hat and wrap a cowboy scarf around it.

  • Use a jewelry box for some flea market 'jewels.'

  • Use a knit hat to wrap a small gift.  Close the hat with a barrette or a decorative hat pin.

  • Games or toys for a child can go in a new backpack designed pillow case.

  • For a person who is handy, wrap a gift in a tool box.

  • Put blouses and other gifts in decorative hat boxes and tie with a hair ribbon.

  • For the sewing enthusiast, wrap a gift in a fabric remnant and tie it with a piece of lace or ribbon.

  • Any kitchen gift can be wrapped in a colorful dish towel. Kitchen utensils can pop out of an oven mitt.

  • Place home-baked cookies in a reusable tin box, a kitchen container, or a decorated oatmeal box.

  • Use a colorful tablecloth to wrap dishes or dining room gifts.

  • For a reader, wrap a book in a reusable canvas shopping sack.

  • Wrap tools for a gardener in the pocket of an apron, planter, or bucket.

  • Hang earrings, bracelets, or necklaces right on the Christmas tree, or put them inside or around an open ornament.

  • Search the flea market, garage sales, and thrift stores for interesting old boxes that can be used as decorative packages.

  • Search the attic for old family photos and mementos and give them to your favorite relative wrapped in grandma's old hat and a lace curtain.


When planning festivities, these simple tips are designed to make it easy to be planet friendly:

1. Make it easy for your guests to recycle at gatherings. Need help planning your event? NRWS is here to help. Click here for more information.

2. Use plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins that can be washed and re-used.