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NEW! - Keywords For This Page:   Exercise - Food - Holidays

Trim Your Holiday Wasteline

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • bring your own shopping bags
  • plastic and cloth bags can be folded into purses and pockets
  • consolidate your purchases into one bag
  • avoid getting a new bag at each store on your shopping rounds


  • send e-greetings to family, friends, and business associates
  • update and pare down your holiday mailing list
  • cut old cards into shapes and seal with clear contact paper
  • the 2.65 billion cards sold yearly fill a football field 10 stories high
  • if we each sent one card less, weíd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper


  • get a tree that can be planted or mulched afterward
  • buy an artificial tree
  • compost your food wastes
  • each home reusing 2 ft of ribbon would save 38,000 miles' worth
  • (that's enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!)


  • after the party, donít throw away the leftovers
  • put food in plastic containers and send them home with guests
  • donate leftovers to food banks or shelters
  • plan meals wisely and practice portion control to minimize waste
  • at least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year
  • (that's over 100 pounds per person!)
  • one less cookie on Santaís plate reduces snacking by 2,000,000 lbs


  • plan your shopping in advance
  • consolidate your shopping trips saves fuel (and aggravation)
  • avoid last minute frenzies when you don't make careful gift choices
  • give gift certificates if you donít know what someone wants
  • or simply make a donation in his or her name to a favorite charity
  • give gifts that encourage others to use less stuff
  • (ex: book on making crafts, cookbook for leftovers, reusable totes)
  • give homemade food or something youíve made yourself
  • for kids, start a savings account or give stocks or bonds
  • shop for gifts at antique stores, estate sales, or flea markets
  • donate unwanted gifts and items the kids have outgrown to charity


  • thereís no place like home, especially during the holidays
  • save time, energy, and money by staying home
  • pretend youíre a tourist visiting your own town
  • call AAA or your Chamber of Commerce for info
  • youíll be amazed at the attractions youíve never visited
  • reduce the amount of gas used during a heavy travel time
  • patronize local businesses to help keep your local economy strong
  • driving 20 fewer miles this holiday saves about 1 gallon of gas
  • (each home doing it reduces emissions by 1,000,000 tons!)


  • when buying electronics, buy rechargeable batteries
  • hide presents and make the kidsí search into a treasure hunt
  • get the kids to make their own tree ornaments
  • use things you already have around the house
  • use twigs, bark, flowers and herbs, pine cones, etc.
  • old clothes and jewelry make a great dress-up box for kids
  • tools and gadgets make a great idea box for a young inventor


  • e-commerce is the future -- but it's not necessarily waste-free
  • choose items that wonít be excessively packed for shipping
  • www.ecomall.com, www.greenshopping.com, www.realgoods.com
  • when shopping by catalogue, cancel the ones you donít need
  • in 1981 the average household received 59 mail order catalogues
  • by 1991 the number had increased 140%, to 142
  • canceling 10 catalogues eliminates 3.5 pounds of trash per year
  • (if we all did this, the stack would be 2,000 miles high!)


  • get outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel
  • separate circuitry keeps the rest shining if one bulb blows out
  • all you have to do is replace the bulb
  • series wiring makes it impossible to find and replace a single bulb
  • the smaller the bulbs, the lower the wattage
  • low wattage bulbs consumes less energy
  • low wattage bulbs give off less heat, making your lights safer
  • bring your own camera instead of using disposable cameras
  • faster film speeds (400 or 800) extend battery life
  • purchase rolls of 36 exposures (not 12), and reduce waste by 67%
  • you also save about $4, or 40% in cost


  • pick gifts that are easy to ship and wonít require excess packaging
  • reuse packing cartons
  • reuse peanuts, shredded newspaper, and bubble wrap
  • give packing peanuts to local private mailing centers for reuse
  • call the Plastic Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214 for info
  • stores often offer discounts for returning cartons and boxes


  • think of gifts that donít have to be wrapped at all
  • (ex: event tickets, gift certificates, plants, or gifts of your time)
  • when giving oversized gifts, just tie a bow around them
  • wrap gifts in maps, newspapers, comics, or fancy holiday gift bags
  • kidsí art work is perfect wrapping for presents to grandparents
  • use brown paper grocery bags to wrap boxes for mailing
  • make the wrap part of the gift
  • (ex: cookies in a flower pot or hiding jewelry in a pair of gloves)
  • keeps your gift under wraps and the "wrapping" out of the trash


  • turn down the heat before the guests arrive
  • (save energy while the body heat of your guests warms the room)
  • for formal affairs, rent seldom worn party clothes
  • buying formal outfits from consignment shops
  • rent dishes and glassware (no need to buy special holiday china)
  • walk to neighborhood parties
  • carpool with friends if itís too far to walk


UseLessStuff is dedicated to helping people use their precious resources more wisely. For more info, visit the Use Less Stuff website at www.Use-Less-Stuff.com.

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