BYOB(ag) and Skip the Fluff — Bring your own bag and pass on the tissue paper, ribbons and stickers that so often accompany even the smallest holiday purchases. Forego complimentary gift wrapping and wrap gifts creatively in environmentally friendly ways (see #6, “Wrap it and Pack it”).
2) Stop the Junk Mail Before it Starts — When you order from a catalog or online, use the magic words, “Please do not rent, sell or trade my name” to avoid having your name shared with other companies and marketers. Not filling out company surveys and warranty cards will also prevent junk mail. We’ve partnered with www.41pounds. org to help you reduce junk mail, preserve the environment and raise money for Eco- Cycle. Learn more at www.ecocycle.org/ junkmail.
3) Choose Recyclable Holiday Cards — To see if your dark-colored card or envelope is recyclable, rip the card or envelope (or flyer). If the dye goes all the way through, it is not recyclable. If you see white fibers along the ripped edge, it’s recyclable. For those that are not recyclable, toss them in your curbside compost bin (if you have one) or shred and place them in your backyard compost. Otherwise, please trash them. Also, make sure you remove any non-paper materials like aluminum foil, ribbons, glitter, etc. before recycling or composting.
4) Choose Recycled Holiday Cards — The amount of cards sold during the holiday season would fill a football field 10 stories high and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees. Look for cards containing the highest post-consumer content. You can find them at the Boulder Book Store, Ellie’s, Bliss and local health food stores. Or, give the trees a break this holiday season by using e-cards through www.care2.com, www. evite.com or www.sendomatic.com.
5) Re-charge it! — Every year more than 15 billion batteries are produced and sold worldwide, and many are alkaline batteries that are thrown out after just one use. Alkaline batteries can be replaced with rechargeable batteries that can be reused hundreds of times — saving you money and helping the environment at the same time. Go green all the way and purchase a solar-powered charger!
6) Wrap it and Pack it Eco-Style — While we’ll be accepting wrapping paper for a limited time, we encourage you not to use it as its high-clay and low-paper content makes it difficult to recycle. Instead, get creative and choose a reused/reusable alternative: comics, posters, maps, blueprints, calendars (all recyclable), fabric, cloth gift bags, bandanas, etc. If you’re shipping gifts, replace foam packaging or bubble wrap with plastic bags or glossy ads from newspapers (the ink doesn’t smear like newspaper).
7) Consider Alternatives to Cut Trees — Instead of cutting down a tree, decorate a favorite houseplant or buy a live tree that can be replanted in the spring. If you do opt for a cut tree, you can have it turned into mulch through city-sponsored programs.
8) Throw a Waste-Free Party — Rather than offer your guests disposable cutlery and plates, serve folks on real, reusable dishware. You can rent everything from linens to soup bowls at Rental City in Boulder and All Events in Longmont. To make Zero Waste even easier, check out our Zero Waste Event Kit, which is suitable for 25 to 250 guests and includes compostable tableware, a compost collection box and educational signage. See more details at www.ecocycle.org/zwevents.
9) Go for Eco-Deco — When planning a party, avoid streamers, balloons and other decorations designed for one-time use. Create centerpieces from what you have, like pottery pieces, glass ornament balls, fresh fruit, pinecones and vegetables. Buy local, organically grown flowers whenever possible, or choose potted plants to provide a year-round green.
10) Plan for Green Dining—Plan your dinner party menu to include seasonal, organic food from local farms. Find local food suppliers at www.localsustainability.net. If you are hiring a catering service, choose one that is familiar with the concept of Zero Waste. Invite your guests to bring reusable containers to take home any leftovers and arrange in advance to donate extra food to a local food bank.