Unwaste the Holiday Season

December 5th, 2022
Reading time: 6 minutes

The Brightmark editorial team focuses on providing insightful and valuable information to impact the planet positively and create a world without waste. Learn more about our methodology here.

The holidays are an excellent time to celebrate with friends and family. However, while the holidays are a special time of year,  they can also be a time of excess. From taking part in one too many Black Friday sales to tossing out gifts and decor that are no longer in style, significant amounts of waste are created with the holiday season. Although, it doesn’t have to be that way. Read below to see our recommendations and tips on minimizing and Reimagining Waste this holiday season.


Unwaste Gift Wrapping & Packaging


Use Recycled Ribbon and Paper

During the holiday season, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of the gifts we give. A great way to minimize waste is by using recycled ribbon and paper. 

Recycled materials are more sustainable because they don’t require additional energy or new materials. It also saves money, reducing costs for both consumers and companies. 

Recycling also keeps waste out of landfills, where it can leach into groundwater and soil and release toxic chemicals into the environment.

If recycled gifting materials are unavailable, make a special effort to recycle as much of your gift wrap and ribbon as possible.


Use Cloth or Reusable Bags

When you’re out holiday shopping, you can continue to help unwaste waste during the holiday season by using a cloth or reusable shopping bags. They are the most eco-friendly choice for your holiday shopping and are also more cost-effective. In addition, they’re easier to carry than traditional plastic bags, and they can be used for more than just groceries.


Get Creative with Wrapping

Make your gift wrap out of felt or other materials, like burlap or corkboard (check out this tutorial on how to make burlap ribbons.)

Try wrapping gifts in brown paper bags. This also offers a chance to get extra creative by decorating the brown paper with markers, stamps, stickers, and more.


Use Cardboard Shipping Boxes

Instead of purchasing new boxes to store your gifts, try reusing cardboard shipping boxes to package your gifts. Then, use one of our other recycled wrapping tips to give a more sustainable gift.


Unwaste Your Holiday Decorations

Instead of purchasing new decorations, try making your own with materials around your house or upcycle old decorations.

House decor styles come and go (shiplap, anyone?), but that doesn’t mean you have to toss it out now that it no longer fits your current style. Instead, try to upcycle your decor with YouTube tutorials and remake it into something that fits your everyday style. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint or a little repurposing to make your items feel new.

Recycle or reuse old or unwanted items by making DIY Christmas decorations.

  • Make felt ornaments out of old sweaters
  • Cut up old t-shirts and make stuffed animals from them
  • Use recycled glass jars for candle holders
  • Wrap a punched aluminum can in ribbon, then poke holes through it with a pushpin to make a beautiful ornament for your tree
  • If you still want some holiday fun but can’t get rid of everything around the house, try creating homemade decorations from recycled materials


Unwaste Your Holiday Cards

Reuse your old cards and gift bags to make new cards. This is an excellent way to cut down on waste, and it’s much more fun than sticking them in the recycling bin. Simply cut out the front of your used greeting card and glue or tape it onto another sheet of paper or cardstock. Then, you can write your message, create a fabulous holiday art collage, or create a gift bag out of older holiday cards.

You can also turn old gift cards into new ones by printing them at home. All you need is the following:

  • Holiday art collage
  • Gift bags made of older holiday cards
  • Gift tags
  • Placemats
  • Holiday paper chains
  • And many more creative possibilities


Unwaste Your Holiday Gifts To Others


Shop Online

Shopping online is more sustainable than traditional shopping. When you shop online, you don’t have to drive to a store, which saves time and money. You can also research products before purchasing them and receive them promptly without going anywhere physically.

While shopping online may seem impersonal at first glance—or potentially not in line with your identity as an earth-conscious consumer—it has many benefits for both the environment and your wallet!


Give Experiences as Gifts

There are many reasons to give experiences as gifts, but have you thought about their impact on the environment?

Experiences are typically more memorable than gifts. When you get an adventure as a gift, you can share it with others and create memories that last a lifetime. A gift card won’t carry the same weight as a trip to plant a tree or tickets to a local production with your friends or family.


Donate to a Charity in Someone’s Name

If you want to give the gift of giving, consider donating to a charity in someone’s name. This is an excellent option for those who want to give back but don’t have time or inclination to shop. It also allows you to contribute something meaningful that will be used by people who need it most.

Do you want to genuinely make a sustainable impact this holiday season? If so, you can donate to one of these fine organizations focused on improving the planet.


Unwaste the Gifts You Receive This Holiday Season

Suppose you’re buying a lot of new electronics this holiday season. In that case, it’s important to remember that many retailers offer free recycling options. Some of the most common items found in your average home include:

  • Electronic devices (e.g., phones and computers)
  • Batteries
  • Holiday lights and decorations

Avoid tossing out old electronics and instead focus on things such as reselling on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or at a flea market that can help extend the life of these items. If you’re not able to resell, do a search for your local electronics recycling programs. Often, local governments and recycling organizations will hold several drives a year to collect and recycle electronics.

We don’t have to be wasteful while celebrating the holidays. There are so many ways to unwaste during the holiday season! Being mindful of purchases and recycling as much as possible truly helps and can make a significant difference. 

And if Aunt Margaret gave you that dreaded knit sweater you’ll never wear? You can always donate your unwanted gifts or upcycle them into something special.

Join us in unwasting waste this holiday season. Happy Holidays from all of us at Brightmark!

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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