The holiday season for most people means getting and giving gifts, large meals, and visiting with friends and family. With so much excitement going on, it can be easy to forget about the impact some traditions and actions have on the environment. You don’t have to give up celebrating your favorite holiday to be more eco-friendly, but there are simple, mindful ways that you can make the holidays more sustainable without giving up the things you love.

Follow these tips for a sustainable holiday season. 

Avoid Wrapping Paper

Seeing beautifully wrapped presents under the tree is one of the most quintessential parts of the holiday season. However, many people don’t think about the amount of waste this creates. Wrapping paper gets torn off in seconds and is immediately thrown away, so while it looks nice, it’s extremely wasteful, and there are much better options for sustainable gift-giving. 

Vertical Roots General Manager Andrew Hare gives us some advice on sustainable wrapping alternatives. “Did you know most gift wrapping is not recyclable? Glittery and shiny paper, dyed tissue, plastic ribbons, and bows are made with harmful chemicals and can contaminate your recycling. Instead, wrap with paper bags, reusable totes, and tea towels. Bonus: they double as extra gifts! Instead of tape, use twine and fabric. Cut out cardboard boxes for tags and embellish with sprigs of thyme, lavender, and small clippings from your yard!” These sustainable ideas can look even better than traditional wrapping paper, so there’s no reason not to switch.

Recycle What You Can

New devices are usually some of the most sought-after holiday gifts. New computers, tablets, phones, and gaming devices are at the top of lists for people of all ages. If you were gifted a new device this holiday season, you probably already had an older version of it that you don’t need anymore. If you got a new tablet this year and you’re thinking, “how do I recycle my old tablet,” Newtech Recycling can help.

Andrew Hare tells us that, “There is massive amounts of waste during the holiday season. Extend your holiday caring to the planet by recycling. 1. Learn about what can be recycled at your local facility before you shop. 2. Purchase items and packaging that can easily be recycled or are made of recycled materials. 3. Safely recycle odd items such as batteries and metals. 4. Save ribbons, bows, and extra wrapping you receive to be used next year!” Whether you’re making sure your cardboard boxes get taken care of or that you’re using the right desktop disposal for old computers, you can make sure that everything that can be recycled is taken care of. 

Give Second-Hand or Homemade Gifts

You might think that getting everyone brand new gifts from the store is the only option. This is what most people do, but there are more eco-friendly options. Buying from second-hand stores or making your own gifts is a much more sustainable and unique way of giving gifts. This isn’t just good for the environment, but your wallet will also appreciate this move. This year has been financially difficult for many, and figuring out how to get gifts for everyone on your list can be a strain. By thrifting and making your own gifts, you can save a huge amount of money without having to skip people on your list. 

Bertie Cowan, founder of Effortless Outdoors, advises that “From Christmas trees to Christmas presents, there are so many nearly new or even new items that people have bought and used once or even never at all. Keep the cycle and recycle. Why not try upcycling old gifts or objects, decorate your house with arts and crafts, and use some of those lockdown crafts the kids made to decoupage something for the grandparent’s Gifts.”

Cut Down on Travel

Many of us need to travel out of town to see friends or families during the holidays or have others make the trip to come see us. However, this year is different for all of us, and few people are leaving their homes for holiday parties. This can be extremely depressing for those of us who have to miss out on our favorite holiday traditions, but there is a bright side to this, aside from keeping ourselves and others healthy. With a large decrease in the number of people traveling, we’re making a positive impact on the environment. 

Bertie Cowan, says that “It’s a secret blessing for mother nature this Christmas, well actually the whole of 2020, has given time back to the world to restore some of its natural resources as well as the wildlife reclaiming some of their lands. keep all travel- air, road, sea, and rail to a minimum.” By staying home this year, you’re doing a lot more to help others than you may realize.

Use Sustainable Decorations

Fortunately, many of our holiday decorations get reused each year, so the environmental impact from many decorations is relatively low. However, if you are looking for new decorations this year, be smart about what you choose. Try making your own Christmas decorations, check out what’s available in second-hand and vintage stores, or buy things made from recycled content when possible. 

Countless houses have string lights and other light-up decorations outside the house, as well as lights around the Christmas tree and likely other lights around the inside of the house. This is an area where many of us can improve and get more energy-efficient lights. Brian Conghalie, founder of, advocates for LED lights for decorating and says, “Switching to LED lights can make a big difference in terms of energy consumption and carbon footprints. In fact, LED lights use around 25% of the energy of conventional incandescent bulbs.