Ten tips for reducing holiday waste

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and buy more than we need, for ourselves and for others. Here are ten tips for how you can help reduce plastic pollution and other waste around the holidays.

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and buy more than we need, for ourselves and for others. Here are ten tips for how you can help reduce plastic pollution and other waste around the holidays:

1. Give the gift of sustainability. Out of ideas for what to get your loved ones for the holidays? How about a plastic-free starter kit? Durable travel mugs and water bottles, reusable grocery bags and food containers, silicone sandwich bags, and glass, steel, or bamboo straws are all great alternatives to their single-use plastic counterparts and can go a long way towards reducing a loved one’s plastic footprint.

2. Skip the plastic packaging where you can. When buying gifts, you can reduce your plastic footprint by avoiding gifts that are heavily packaged in plastic. Most of the time, this packaging can’t be recycled, so it will inevitably end up in the landfill or our natural environment.

3. Buy local. Shopping at local stores can help avoid all of the excess packaging and shipping materials from shopping online. Buying in person rather than online can also reduce the fossil fuels needed to transport your goods across the country– plus, you’ll be supporting a local business at the same time!

4. Consider buying used or refurbished electronics. In the market for new electronics this holiday season? Consider buying them refurbished instead of new. Repaired devices can provide equivalent performance at much lower prices and help mitigate the environmental impacts of brand new devices. Check out this online guide from our friends at OSPIRG to learn what to look for and what to avoid.

5. Consider buying other gifts used as well. Though it might seem less glamorous, there are a lot of things out there in perfect condition looking for a new home, and they can be found for lower prices while reducing waste. Swing by your local thrift shop and see if you can find some hidden treasures.

6. Skip giving “things.” Who says that your holiday gifts have to be “things” at all? Giving memberships and subscriptions as presents can provide year-long benefits while avoiding the production costs of ever-more stuff. Or, go even more low-tech and hand out coupons for a date night or a home cooked meal.

7. Cook and bake at home. Cooking at home as opposed to ordering takeout or buying pre-prepared food can help save takeout packaging and is a fun thing to do over the holidays. After your meal, if you have a lot of food left over, consider donating it to a local food rescue organization or food pantry, avoiding food waste.

8. Save your gift wrapping. When wrapping– and unwrapping– your gifts, keep in mind that gift bags and wrapping paper can be saved and used again in future years.

9. Repair a loved one’s favorite possession. Another great gift option that actively helps reduce waste while ensuring the person getting the gift will love it is deceptively simple: repair what your loved ones already have. We all have a favorite jacket with a busted zipper or a pair of shoes in desperate need of a resole; instead of getting new items, helping to fix what’s already beloved is a no-brainer.

10. Give a loved one a membership to Environment Oregon. Please consider giving your friends and family (or yourself #selflove) the gift of membership to Environment Oregon. We are working hard to reduce plastic pollution and fight waste every day:  http://bit.ly/EOHolidayGift

Wishing you a happy and sustainable holiday season!


Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.

boreal forest
Tim Rains / NPS | Public Domain

Will you stand with our forests?

Our forests are invaluable. They’re chock full of centuries old trees, provide irreplaceable wildlife habitat and act as a natural climate solution. It’s up to us to save our forests from clear-cutting. This week make a Giving Tuesday gift to help protect our forests.

Donate Today