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​​​Tips to Reduce

Between wrapping presents, decorating, the parties and the food, the holidays can create a lot of waste. Use these tips to keep unnecessary waste out of the landfill.



Pass on a good bookPass on a good book<div class="ExternalClassE3D09B4A79594A768514E169C4816054"><p>Read any good books lately? Share the memory in a low-waste way. Re-gifting a book is a great way example of reducing waste without sacrificing the experience. </p></div>, Picture
HeirloomsHeirlooms<div class="ExternalClass1989130C94384A30BC39641FA843CD39"><p>​How do you know something will really last? When it already has. Pass on a family heirloom, or something you cherish from your childhood.</p></div>, Picture
Family treeFamily tree<div class="ExternalClass9ADF38C1DD0A4015A59DC1AE85D49029"><div><p>Teach your children about their heritage and encourage them to pass it on to future generations. This is a gift that could truly last for generations to come.</p></div></div>, Picutre
New Year’s EveNew Year’s Eve<div class="ExternalClassCF5BFB1EA0964E4F83407B93E46B5C43"><ul style="margin-left:0px;margin-top:0px;"><li>​​​​Send electronic invitations instead of paper</li><li>Invest in decorations that are long lasting and store them for next year </li><li>Use reusable dishware, stemware and napkins</li><li>Rent what you don’t have instead of buying them </li><li>Send leftovers home with your guests as a thank you/party favour​<br></li></ul></div>​<br>, Picture
Cloth ribbonCloth ribbon<div class="ExternalClass24B0C1EE13454838B43CFF0E9107875A"><p>Beautiful and timeless, cloth ribbons can be reused and repurposed for years to come. Not sure how to tie a bow? Find dozens of quick bow tutorials online.</p></div>, Picture
Borrow from natureBorrow from nature<div class="ExternalClass1BDAEF8CA0FE4FD8BEA217103408F3EC"><p>​Many decorations can be found by looking no further than your back yard. Pinecones, branches, leaves, and twigs can all be used as decorations. Try using the greenery in nature to make your wreath or centerpiece this year. It’s easy, waste free, and smells good too! </p></div>, Picture
Reusable LED candles,,-123.1253245,,13z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1253245,13z/data=!3m1!4b1Reusable LED candles<div class="ExternalClass00A605895520403FB4DEEB1618974E8E"><p>​Who doesn't love the warm winter ambiance created by lighting a few candles? Reusable LED candles are a safer and more eco-friendly option. Make sure to look for rechargeable and reusable LED candles, and to avoid the cheaper disposable ones.​<br></p></div>, Picture
Green shopping choices,,-123.1621773,,12z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1621773,12z/data=!3m1!4b1Green shopping choices<div class="ExternalClassD8E7195342B24B96A5F7062B0795B987"><p>​When choosing new decorations, shop for ones that can be used forever. Start small<br>and add to your collection year by year.</p></div>, Picture
Make it a partyMake it a party<div class="ExternalClassD3BDE295EBA24A1EB1317B792A19CEB0"><p>Invite friends and family over to make decorations. It’s amazing the beautiful decorations you can make out of newspaper, magazine pages, toilet paper rolls, and a little ribbon or string. Search online for ‘green Christmas decorations’ – you’ll find loads of ideas.​<br></p></div>, Picture
The aftermathThe aftermath<div class="ExternalClass198B1E08AD744D90AF4BCB10E0CAD001"><p>​Once it's all said and done, you may still have some 'stuff' leftover. Know what packaging and printed paper can go into your recycling bins.</p><p>You can also use <a href="">Metro Vancouver Recycles</a> to find the most convenient locations to donate or recycle just about anything that doesn't go in your blue box. </p></div>, Picture
Planter candlePlanter candle<div class="ExternalClassFB9A4BFB046A4CA5B2DF2E82B6746E6E"><p>Instead of recycling or tossing your empty candle container, upcycle it and give it a new life by turning it into a planter.​<br></p></div>, Picture
Love Food, Hate WasteLove Food, Hate Waste<div class="ExternalClassCE54F169F38D471A9F502989B938E746"><p>Check out these simple ideas to <a href="">keep your holiday leftovers from going to waste</a>.</p><p>Fed up with leftovers? The most effective way to reduce food waste is to <a href="">make a plan and buy only what you need</a>.​<br></p></div>, Picture
Plan your holiday food shoppingPlan your holiday food shopping<div class="ExternalClassFD4643B683804B9287CFA3AD70DB262F"><ul><li>Check what you have at home before you shop<br></li><li><div>Make a list and buy only what you need​<br></div></li><li><div>Bring your own reusable shopping bags </div></li><li><div>Buy local meat and produce if possible</div></li><li><div>Shop in bulk to reduce packaging</div></li></ul><br></div>, Picture
Entertain in greenEntertain in green<div class="ExternalClass0C5C16C90BE147C2B085270A91E96438"><ul><li>Use reusable cloth napkins instead of paper</li><li>Use reusable containers for leftovers </li><li>Suggest that your dinner guest bring their own reusable containers to take leftovers home.</li><li>Remember to compost any unusable food scraps.​<br><br></li></ul></div>, Picture
Curate a collectionCurate a collection<div class="ExternalClass9942E74D01824697BC8E3087B54DE129"><p>​When buying new decorations, choose quality items you’ll want to use year after year. Mix these in with homemade and nostalgic items to build a collection of decorations you love.</p></div>, Picture
Recycle old christmas lightsRecycle old christmas lights<div class="ExternalClass3A63AF668CFC4377A76E861B2D4285EF"><p>​Old, broken Christmas lights can be recycled. Find a facility that accepts them on <a href="">Metro Vancouver Recycles.</a></p></div>, Picture
Recycled cardboard treeRecycled cardboard tree<div class="ExternalClass886DBD08B299441E9F6F1F167E5E8BD2"><p></p><p>Instead of chopping down a perfectly healthy tree, how about using ones that are already dead? By recycling some old cardboard boxes, you’ll end up with a minimalist 3D tree that can be decorated with lights and baubles just like any other. ​ <a href=""> Find instructions ​here.</a><br></p></div>, Picture
Alternative Christmas treeAlternative Christmas tree<div class="ExternalClass97CC49A9CC17403487EE3730B36CCAD1"><p>​If you’re looking to move away from a traditional tree this Christmas, see what materials you have around the house and exercise some creative muscle. You can make a festive tree out of books, a ladder, or picture frames. <br></p></div>, Picture
Turn old toys into ornamentsTurn old toys into ornaments<div class="ExternalClassB4C9ED88672449E8B88F7AA220BCD474"><p>​Transform old toys into nostalgic Christmas tree decorations. Ask the kids to help pick out which toys to use. To hang, use a needle and embroidery thread to stitch through soft toys, insert screw eyes into wooden toys, or wind embroidery thread through an opening or around a narrow part of the toy.</p></div>, Picture
Recycled gift wrap garlandRecycled gift wrap garland<div class="ExternalClassDA75D20FED3B4A4DB6A72DAF28EF885C"><p>​Instead of throwing them out, gather up old holiday gift bags, bits of wrapping paper and greeting cards. Cut out circles and string them together to create a festive garland. Get instructions <a href="">here</a>. </p></div>, Picture
O Christmas treeO Christmas tree<div class="ExternalClass820F525DEE6740A3ACB21CE58CEFD345"><p>Real tree? Unless it’s been sprayed with fake snow, it can be recycled. Remove all decorations and bring it to a recycling and waste centre where it will be composted. Find a location on <a href=""></a> (search “Christmas Tree”). </p><p>Alternatively, check your municipality’s website for local chip-ups. Next year, consider renting a potted tree for the holidays.​​<br></p></div>, Picture
Reuse or recycle wrapping paperReuse or recycle wrapping paper<div class="ExternalClassBE70CFF2FE67478B895DC5DA6E00EAC1"><p>Reuse wrapping paper if you can. Carefully flatten and fold large pieces to be used again. Smaller pieces can be used to make gift tags. </p><p>Can't be salvaged? Paper wrapping can go in paper recycling. Watch out for gift wrap made of plastic, foil, or with texture from non-paper additives like glitter – this paper cannot be recycled and belongs in the garbage.​​<br></p></div>, Picture
Be kind to your Christmas decorationsBe kind to your Christmas decorations<div class="ExternalClassD69CC5E9551C478BA13A25151A439C24"><p>​Store decorations away carefully and you'll be able to use them year on year – meaning less waste going to landfill and reducing your need to buy new stuff.</p><p>You can use shredded wrapping paper or packaging from new toys or gadgets to protect delicate items.</p><p>And don't throw away decorations – donate or sell them so they can live another life.​​<br></p></div>, Picture
Electronic waste,,-123.1636317,,12z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1636317,12z/data=!3m1!4b1Electronic waste<div class="ExternalClassB59648E78E8B485E9A0BDCCDFCB73D34"><p>​Did you upgrade to the latest gadget this Christmas? Remember to dispose of your old one properly by selling/donating it if it still works, or recycle it. Anything with a battery or plug can be recycled. Find a recycling and waste centre near you at </p><p>​<a href="" target="_blank"></a>.​​​​​<br></p></div>, Picture
Have a swap partyHave a swap party<div class="ExternalClass861017CB2D0D4662B369BC791593846E"><p>You may not be in love with the fringed, mesh muscle shirt that one of your over-zealous co-workers gave you, but someone else might go gaga over it! Plan a swap party by inviting a few friends to bring over their unwanted gifts, serve some snacks, and let the trading begin!​<br></p></div>, Picture
RegiftingRegifting<div class="ExternalClassD3FF3575EAAB41D5BF7439C8D183B37E"><p>If you've got a gift that you know someone else will enjoy more than you will, why not give it to them? Start a 'gift drawer' to collect new items that you give for future birthdays, housewarmings, etc. Put a note on each stored gift so you don't accidentally return the gift to the orignal gifter!​<br></p></div>, Picture
Donate unwanted items,,-123.2144836,,12z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.2144836,12z/data=!3m1!4b1Donate unwanted items<div class="ExternalClass8AD2C4917D2146D38B00154830189EE1"><p> ​Give away items that you don't want or won't use, or old items that have been replaced by something shiny and new. Make sure the items you donate are clean and in good working condition.</p><p>Search online for charities or thrift stores that will accept your donations.​​​​<br></p></div>, Picture
Use up leftoversUse up leftovers<div class="ExternalClass57ECA1D8FA4847F0B213CAA2775D9F1E"><p>A lot of resources went into preparing your holiday meal – land, water, energy, and your time and money! Make the most of it by using up all your leftovers.</p><p>Freeze goodies to eat later or give away leftovers to friends and family. Visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> for more ideas and recipes to use up your Christmas leftovers.​</p></div>, Picture
Shipping packagingShipping packaging<div class="ExternalClass5E8555ABA7424825B3CA2140B6830462"><p>​​​​Gifts and online orders come in all sorts of packaging – soft plastic, foam, air pockets and more. If you can't reuse the packaging, find out how to recycle it in your municipality.</p><p>Check with​ <a href="" target="_blank">Metro Vancouver Recycles</a> to find out how to recycle shipping packaging where you live.​​</p></div>, Picture
Reuse Christmas cards before recycling themReuse Christmas cards before recycling them<div class="ExternalClassDDDCE121979144AE8D119F5B2C38A3A8"><p>Reuse the decorative fronts of cards as gift tags or upcycled decorations next year. The back panel can be cut into narrow strips to use as shopping lists or kept for crafts. </p><p></p><p>If you can’t reuse your cards, plain paper cards go in your paper recycling. Cards with non-paper additives like plastic, glitter, sequins or fabric cannot be recycled and go in the garbage.</p></div>, Picture
FabricsFabrics<div class="ExternalClass542B51E34CDD43EA8E0B641F75BB4402"><p>​The perfect reusable material for wrapping presents. Look around your house for tablecloths, tea towels, pillowcases, or sheets. For ideas on how to wrap using fabrics, check out the Japanese art of​ <a href="">furoshiki</a>, which uses just a few simple folds and a knot.<br></p></div>, Picture
Newspaper,,-123.0265786,,13z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.0265786,13z/data=!3m1!4b1Newspaper<div class="ExternalClass370BD555AF054BD1B0824617308B1FE7"><p>​Do you get the newspaper delivered to your home? Consider saving a few weeks’ worth for your holiday wrapping. </p></div>, Picture
Brown paper bagsBrown paper bags<div class="ExternalClassE75A772FC9D447F18E67423666DDBB1C"><p>​Collect these from the supermarket for the weeks leading into the holidays. All you have to do is cut along the seams of the bag, lay it flat like you would with wrapping paper, and voila! Use colourful twine or string, colouring felts, paint or stickers to turn it into something unique and beautiful. </p></div>, Picture
Old mapsOld maps<div class="ExternalClass02B6F69346ED407F9D4EAB5ECF8BC816"><p>​Not many of us are relying on paper maps these days. But wait, don't get rid of these just yet, as they are a colourful source of large paper sheets that can be repurposed for gift wrapping. </p></div>, Picture
CalendarsCalendars<div class="ExternalClassD59A4AB216F64F57A3859E4A8A4360EE"><p>​Calendars become outdated after 365 days. Hold on to your old calendars from last year. You won’t even need much decorating since many have beautiful pictures and artwork already.  </p></div>, Picture
Save your wrapping paperSave your wrapping paper<div class="ExternalClass0F5D7A619B2249C59967E54F3EA9061F"><p>​If you are planning to use gift-wrap, try reusing old wrapping paper from last year. If you need to purchase gift-wrap, look for wrap made from recycled paper.</p></div>, Picture
BoxesBoxes<div class="ExternalClass73D47E7B53D84D858F6748BBDCD70518"><p>​Why do we feel the need to use wrapping paper if we’re already putting the gift in a box? Boxes are a stylish and easy option for your gift wrapping needs, and many of them already have lovely patterns printed on them. </p></div>, Picture
Gift bags,,-123.1156229,,14z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1156229,14z/data=!3m1!4b1Gift bags<div class="ExternalClass01129BF96F5541CCA72570B6E53FF1E0"><p>​Start a new gift wrapping tradition by making gift bags that be reused every year. These can come in a variety of material types and styles: paper, fabric, tote, fiber & mesh, shopping, twisted handle, etc. You probably already have a few lying around the house. </p></div>, Picture
Clay flower pots,,-123.1619526,,14z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1619526,14z/data=!3m1!4b1Clay flower pots<div class="ExternalClass83609611DABE4060AFDEC99AAC71DC13"><p>​A gift within a gift. Look for pots that come with the saucer for catching water, as this makes a great lid. Place your gift inside and secure with string, twine or ribbon. The gift package can be used again for gardening come summer time. </p></div>, Picture
Don't wrap itDon't wrap it<div class="ExternalClass93E658255EC44030917EA46CD97C384D"><p>It’s usually pretty obvious when you wrap up a baseball bat for the Babe Ruth in your life. Embrace the obvious, omit the paper, and jazz it up with a reusable ribbon or a bow. ​<br></p></div>, Picture
JarsJars<div class="ExternalClass9FA8CD6B2ECB48108DC8C3D88D6EF93D"><p>​Reusable containers such as a mason, pasta, jam or soup jars make great vessels for your edible holiday gifts. Check out our <a href="">Love Food Hate Waste</a> page for more great tips how to store food and make it last longer.</p></div>, Picture
Coffee cansCoffee cans<div class="ExternalClass3CCF93AFAABE41258ADC094F6FD187CC"><p>Hang on to your empty food cans throughout the year. These air-tight containers make the perfect package for your tasty Christmas treats. </p></div>, Picture
Paper bagsPaper bags<div class="ExternalClass9898B56BE9D1466F86FB88B625702184"><p>​Baked goods can easily go into a paper bag. Sounds a little unappealing? Punch a few holes in the top, wrap it with some nice twine or a ribbon, and add some greenery to jazz it up and make it look beautiful. </p></div>, Picture
Food storageFood storage<div class="ExternalClass150FF78EF132406289D302549323AFE6"><p>​Got a few extra food storage containers in the bottom drawer? Use these to package up leftovers for your guests, or for your delectable food gifts. <span aria-hidden="true"></span></p></div>, Picture
Wrap without tapeWrap without tape<div class="ExternalClassA3A7664EB8404A3D8E554CD7B7DF4889"><p>​If you’re trying to celebrate the holidays with less plastic, it can be hard to find a less wasteful option for tape. Try this when wrapping gifts: leave the sides of the paper extra-long so that when folded in they can be tied with string or a ribbon and still stay in place.​<br></p></div>, Picture
Organize a clothing swapOrganize a clothing swap<div class="ExternalClassD9AAA6DDAD914E15BEF814E5A2734724"><p>Bring clothes you no longer wear. Walk away with clothes you will. Everybody wins and it reduces textile waste by keeping unwanted clothing out of the landfill.</p></div>, thumb
Edible gifts,,-123.1636317,,12z/data=!3m1!4b1,,-123.1636317,12z/data=!3m1!4b1Edible gifts<div class="ExternalClass3A23E234E6AC4EA5A4B4D5FBBDC01DE9"><p>​An excellent zero waste gift! Get the family into the kitchen to whip up something special for those on your gift list. Try baking cookies, making jam, pickling vegetables, or roasting a holiday nut mix! ​ Check out our <a href="/services/solid-waste/reduction-reuse/create-memories/wrap-wise">Wrap Wise section</a> for some sustainable food wrapping tips. <br></p></div>, Picture
Ask your loved ones to helpAsk your loved ones to help<div class="ExternalClassBF16493974CA4BBF9F2AB7F9EF14D6F7"><div><p>Before the holidays, let your loved ones know you don’t need anything for Christmas and you would rather have a visit instead. To many, time together is more valuable than anything.​<br></p></div></div>, Pciture



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