Reduce Holiday & Gift-Giving Waste


Waste-Wise Gift-Giving Tips!

People living in the Portland metropolitan area throw away 25 percent more garbage during the holiday season. Recycling volumes increase by one-third. Here are a few helpful tips to make less waste during the holiday season:

holiday cardsGiving holiday cards

  • Choose cards made of recycled content or reuse old cards by cutting and pasting to make new creations.
  • Instead of sending cards, set time aside to call friends or send e-cards.

Giving with ecology in mind

  • Give gifts that support sustainable habits and reduce waste (thermos/travel mug, rechargeable batteries, cloth napkins, or cloth grocery bags).
  • Homemade gifts are more personal, can be less expensive, and don’t have wasteful packaging. Give a gift basket of homemade goodies, a wreath made of dried flowers from your garden, or build a birdhouse. 
  • Give a gift of time, talent, or experiences such as tickets to a local arts event or lecture series, a homemade meal, a massage or dog-walking service.
  • Give gifts made from recycled-content materials or a garden compost bin.
  • Promote reuse by giving antiques or unique retro items as gifts.

Japanese Furoshiki

Wrapping it up

  • Purchase gifts with little or no unrecyclable packaging.
  • Get creative when wrapping - put gifts in containers that can be used again, or wrap in fabric or reuse boxes, paper and bows from last season, like Japanese Furoshiki.
  • Buy recycled-content gift wrap and greeting cards or make your own from brown Kraft paper, bags or newsprint. Paint, draw, stamp or print designs on the paper.
  • Avoid wrapping gifts in materials that are not recyclable or reusable, such as foil, mylar or plastic-coated paper and tissue.


  • Buy in bulk whenever possible and cook low carbon foods.
  • Set your table with reusable place settings (use cloth napkins and durable dishware all year-round)!
  • If meal was prepared by a caterer or restaurant, donate the leftovers through Metro's Fork it Over program or Waste Not Food Taxi, which connect food rescue agencies with food preparation companies.
  • Compost vegetable waste and leftovers.

When the holidays are over....

  • Save bows, containers, packing peanuts, and wrapping paper for reuse next year.
  • Make this year’s holiday cards into gift tags for next year.
  • Recycle paper, boxes, cards, and foam peanuts that you can’t reuse, as well as holiday catalogs and magazines.
  • Shred wrapping paper scraps to use as cushioning for storing ornaments for future use.
  • Make your own non-toxic cleaners.
  • Recycle your tree, wreath, or garlands with your curbside yard debris or use a drop-site or pick-up service operated by a community group or businesses near you. Use the What to Recycle and Where tool to find out where and how to recycle these items.
  • Donate electronics, toys, household furnishings, clothing and accessories to a charitable organization if they are still in good working condition.