‘Tis the season to celebrate, but how can we do it without sending an extra five-million tons of trash to the landfills? Consider these five easy ways to give the gift of a cleaner environment to all.

  1. Go natural, or reuse holiday decor

Using natural items from your yard or garden, such as flower heads, holly or pinecones, is a great way to get a fresh holiday look. As a bonus, the beautiful bounty can be composted after the season. Make an inventory of your holiday decorations and try to use them instead of buying new. Trading with friends gives everyone a new look without buying anything new. If you want to get rid of old decorations, donate them to a good cause. Just try to keep them out of the landfill.

  1. Wrap it up

Most wrapping paper and bows are not recyclable. Look for recycled-content wrapping paper to wrap your gifts. Or, choose paper that’s recyclable such as brown Kraft paper or paper grocery bags. Paper can be decorated with stamps, color and festive recycled bows. Or, get creative with a cloth bag, old maps, posters or leftover wallpaper. For kitchen gifts, wrap it up in a dishtowel, tablecloth or napkin. Oftentimes, bows and ribbons can also be reused from year to year. If every family in the U.S. reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  1. Minimize unwanted mail

If holiday catalogues are clogging your mail box, help reduce paper waste by having your name removed from mailing lists. A free, quick and easy way to do this is by visiting Direct Mail. Be sure to recycle the ones you do get.

  1. Recycle shipping materials

With more shopping being done online this season, there will be more boxes and shipping materials. Most delivery boxes are made from paper that can easily be recycled. If the boxes contain Styrofoam packing peanuts, put them in a bag and check with nearby postal mailing centers to see if they can use them. If the packaging material is Kraft paper, you can use it to wrap gifts or make gift tags.

  1. Gather with zero waste

This year, the holiday parties may be very small or non-existent to keep everyone safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even when we can enjoy them again, holiday gatherings don’t have to leave you with lots of trash. Use real plates, glasses, linens and utensils, instead of disposable items. If you don’t own enough, borrow some or check a thrift store. If you decide to use paper napkins, choose some with recycled content. The day of the party, set up convenient recycling containers for bottles and cans. Set out baskets to collect ribbons and bows that can be reused. Then offer them to guests as they leave.

  1. Share your meal & reduce food waste

If you’re cooking for a smaller gathering at home, make a plan to share some of the meal with an older friend or relative who is home bound. Not only will you spread some holiday cheer, but you can reduce holiday food waste. You can also reuse the plastic containers from the whipped cream, butter and cottage cheese or deliver your food gifts in reusable glass containers.

Photo: ProFlowers