Waste Reduction Tips and Recycling Reminders for the Holidays and Beyond


Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Right Reduce waste. The best way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place. When you prevent waste, there is no need or cost for its collection, processing and disposal. There are many ways to reduce what individuals might generate!

Unwanted Mail

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, many households receive larger quantities of advertisements, sale flyers and catalogs. Before placing all the unwanted mail into the recycling bin, take a moment to remove your name from the company's mailing list. Often, all that is needed is a call to a toll-free number provided in the mailing.

Another way to reduce the volume of unwanted mail received any time of the year is to register on a “Do Not Mail” list with any of a number of organizations offering this type of service.  Two such services are Catalog Choice and the Direct Marketing Association.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

During the holidays and throughout the year, residents have opportunities to reduce the amount of waste they generate, reuse items and recycle a wide variety of materials in order to preserve valuable natural resources for the future. And when the holiday season brings about increases in buying and wrapping gifts, as well as entertaining, we offer the following helpful tips:


  • Take along reusable shopping bags when you head out to the stores and malls. When you bring reusable bags from home, you won’t need to pay for and use new paper or plastic shopping bags. Reuse your existing paper and plastic bags again. Paper or plastic bags that can’t be reused or are no longer needed can easily be recycled. Almost all local grocery stores have plastic bag recycling containers and gladly accept them from customers for recycling; recycle paper bags at home, along with other mixed paper and cardboard.

  • Consolidate smaller-sized purchases into one bag, rather than getting a new bag for each item. Ask for a bag only if necessary.

  • When buying gifts to be mailed, select items that are easy to ship and don’t require excess packaging.

  • Shop for gifts at consignment shops, antique stores or estate sales – one person’s unwanted item is another person’s treasure. Donate things that you no longer use or want, along with items that the children have outgrown or that are no longer needed and are in dignity condition, to charitable organizations. You’ll get gratification in a couple of ways – you’ll help others in need, while also helping yourself to de-clutter space and closets.

  • Buy and give reusable bags as gifts for friends and family; there are many unique types, sizes, materials and designs of reusable bags available. They will be useful well beyond the holidays.


  • Items that must be shipped or mailed can be wrapped in reused brown or decorative paper bags from grocery or other stores.

  • Many gift boxes are attractive enough that they don’t need wrapping. Simply add a reusable ribbon or tie a bow on.

  • Gift bags are a great idea. They can save time and effort when you’re wrapping gifts, and can also be used again by the recipient.

  • For oversized or bulky gift items such as furniture, artwork, sports equipment, or bicycles, simply tie a ribbon and bow around them.

  • Wrap just the top of boxes, rather than the entire box.

  • Sunday comics, outdated maps and remnants of fabrics also make unique gift wraps. Or use brown paper to wrap, and then get creative to decorate using stencils, glitter, twine and other craft supplies.

  • Use reusable cloth bags to wrap items; the recipient will also be able to reuse this bag all year long.

  • Reuse wrapping paper – have scissors or letter openers handy when opening gifts so paper doesn’t get damaged when removing tape.

  • Make the wrap a part of the actual gift: put baked goods in a wicker basket, candies in a ceramic bowl, a scarf in a dresser top organizer, or jewelry in cosmetic train case.

  • Reuse packing cartons and shipping materials such as plastic air pillows, shredded paper or newspaper and bubble wrap. Donate excess packaging materials to local mailing centers.

  • Consider giving gifts that require minimal or no wrapping: tickets to sports events, concerts, and/or performances, gift certificates or gift cards to restaurants stores, or online retailers, and plants.


  • Don’t throw away leftovers. Put them in reusable containers for guests to take home with them and enjoy later.

  • Holiday cooking and festivities can generate many types of bottles, jars, cans and containers that can be recycled in the County’s recycling program. Before recycling them, consider whether any could be reused for storing leftovers. Be sure to recycle all the rest.

  • Use dishes, glassware, flatware, table cloths and cloth napkins instead of using disposable items. If you don’t need these items or use larger quantities often, consider renting them.

  • Purchase food items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and buy only what you need.

  • Make creative centerpieces and decorations out of things you find around the house or in the yard, such as pinecones, sprigs, leaves, branches, etc.

Christmas tree recycling

Cut Christmas trees are accepted for recycling year-round, as long as decorations are taken off the tree first. See Christmas tree preparation and recycling details. Also, other holiday natural greenery such as wreaths and roping can be recycled along with other types of yard trim-just remember to remove any wire first.

Recycling beyond the holiday season

Recycle these materials through your recycling program, at home or at work or school, year-round!