‘Tis the Season for Less Waste

December 5th, 2023
Reading time: 6 minutes

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The holiday season often brings an influx of waste from gift wrapping, food, travel, and discarded decorations. This year, get creative about cutting down on waste! Here are unique ways to unwaste the holiday season:


Gift Plants

Instead of giving yet another knick-knack, give a potted plant or herb garden. Try to choose low-maintenance houseplants, succulents, flower bulbs, or an indoor herb garden. Even if your recipient is notorious for throwing out dead plants, our plant guide has recommendations for every level of experience.

Gifting plants helps reduce waste since they don’t require packaging. Plants are also the gift that keeps on giving. Here are some benefits your recipient will get from being gifted a plant:


Air Purification

Some house plants can absorb pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, helping to purify indoor air. Examples include the spider plant, peace lily, and snake plant.


Stress Reduction

Studies have shown that the presence of house plants can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. They can create a calming environment and promote feelings of well-being.


Natural Scent

Some house plants, like jasmine or gardenia, can fill a room with natural fragrances. Take that, candles!


Connection with Nature

For those living in urban environments without easy access to nature, house plants can provide a necessary connection to the natural world.

Give your gift an extra sustainable touch by potting plants in reused containers like mugs or jars. Get crafty and add a reusable tag with care instructions.


Create a Zero-Waste Advent Calendar

Ditching plastic advent calendars is a step towards a greener holiday season. Instead of the disposable, often non-recyclable versions found in stores, consider crafting your own reusable Advent calendar. Using materials like fabric pockets, wooden blocks, or even paper bags not only adds a personal touch but also ensures longevity. 

These DIY calendars can be tailored to your aesthetic preferences, be it rustic, modern, or whimsical, and the best part is that they can be used year after year, reducing waste and saving money in the long run.

Filling your homemade advent calendar can be an exciting venture in itself. Rather than the usual plastic trinkets, opt for fun clues that lead to memorable experiences, be it a family game night, a winter walk, or a special baking day. Homemade treats, perhaps a favorite cookie or a piece of fudge, can be a delightful surprise, while sustainable gifts like packets of seeds can inspire a love for gardening. Engaging kids in this way not only minimizes the influx of excess plastic toys but also instills in them an appreciation for sustainability and the joy of simple, meaningful experiences.


Gift DIY Kits

Gifting a DIY kit is a thoughtful way to inspire sustainability and creativity all in one package. Instead of buying pre-made items, consider assembling a kit that allows the recipient to dive into a hands-on project, crafting candles, whipping up homemade soaps, brewing their own kombucha, or creating unique artwork. 

The beauty of these kits lies in their personal touch. By sourcing reusable containers, you can pack them with all the essential ingredients and materials needed for the project. Not only does this approach minimize waste, but it also offers the joy of creation, allowing the recipient to take pride in making something from scratch.

Beyond traditional DIY crafts, think outside the box by curating kits that offer unique experiences. For example, design a kit for a magical night of backyard camping, complete with a stargazing guide and sustainable snacks. Or a letter-writing kit filled with recycled paper, eco-friendly ink, and stamps, encouraging the lost art of handwritten communication. For those with a green thumb, a container gardening kit packed with organic seeds, compost, and reusable gardening tools can be a hit. 

Each kit should come with clear instructions, ensuring that even beginners can dive in confidently and enjoy the experience to the fullest. Gifting handmade DIY kits is more than just a present; it’s an invitation to explore, learn, and create. 

These kits reduce the environmental impact of commercially produced and packaged gifts and foster a sense of accomplishment. By encouraging creativity and imparting new DIY skills, such gifts resonate long after the project is complete, serving as a lasting reminder of sustainable choices and the joy of hands-on creation.


Decorate with Edible Decorations

Use edibles like cranberries, mandarin oranges, pine sprigs, cinnamon sticks, and pine cones for natural, waste-free decor. Hang cookies, candy, and dried fruits on your tree or around your home. Neutral and natural decor is still popular, so tap into the rich, natural colors and textures that all kinds of food offer.

Some examples of edible holiday decor are:


Fruit Garlands

String together dried slices of oranges, apples, and lemons. They look lovely, smell great, and can be composted afterward.


Popcorn Strings

A classic! Popcorn strings can be draped on trees or around the house.


Nuts & Pinecones

A bowl filled with mixed nuts in their shells, alongside pinecones, can be a rustic and attractive centerpiece.


Herb Bouquets

Fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme can be tied together and hung around the house for a fragrant and rustic touch. Use edible flowers like nasturtiums, pansies, or calendula for pops of color.

To keep the edible decor fresh and pest-free, dry them properly, store them in cool places, incorporate natural pest repellents like cinnamon or cloves, and clean up any crumbs or scraps immediately to avoid attracting unwanted critters.


Get Family and Friends to Join in a Waste Reduction Challenge

Gather your loved ones and turn sustainability into a friendly competition by launching a waste-reduction challenge. Whether seeing who can avoid landfill waste the longest or tracking monthly carbon footprints, it’s a playful way to make a serious impact.

As everyone works towards a greener lifestyle, they’ll learn valuable eco-friendly habits and strengthen bonds over a shared mission. Want to make it extra fun? Reward standout un-wasters with fun prizes crafted from reused or natural materials.


Toy Swap

This holiday season, skip the rush to buy new toys that kids might quickly outgrow and host a community toy swap instead. Encourage families to bring gently used toys their children no longer play with. These toys find new homes and a second life through the swap, preventing them from ending up in landfills. 

Not only do kids delight in their “new” treasures, but they also get a firsthand lesson in sustainability. For that festive touch, wrap the swapped toys in reusable bags or eco-friendly wrapping, further emphasizing waste reduction.

As the holiday season unfolds, embrace a new tradition of sustainability, where every choice reflects our commitment to a brighter, greener future. By reducing waste, we’re not just making an environmental statement, but we’re also creating cherished memories rooted in mindfulness and purpose. 

Each eco-friendly decision, from gifting plants to hosting toy swaps, is a step towards a world where the joy of the holidays is measured not by excess but by the thoughtful impact we make. So, as you celebrate, remember that the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, our loved ones, and our planet is hope for a sustainable tomorrow. Cheers to a festive season filled with purpose, joy, and hope for the future!

Lindsey Kugler Headshot Blog
Lindsey Kugler
SEO Manager

With a background in nonprofits, design, marketing, and management, Lindsey is prepared to support a wide variety of teams in their quest for excellence. She draws upon her strengths as a communicator and an all-around people person. Her careful eye for detail supports  SEO efforts and Google Ads. Lindsey is an AmeriCorps alum pursuing her bachelor’s at Arizona State University.

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