6 Tips For a Waste Free Holiday Season

December 15, 2023

Christmas tree thrown to the trash bin on the street after celebration with recycling sign cardboard and Santa hat

It’s the time of year when everyone is showing off their best decoration skills. From creative menorahs and kinaras in windows to string lights, Christmas trees, and window decals. And it is a tradition for most to have some sort of feast, or holiday meal. The holiday celebrations may look different in every home, but one thing is consistent for Denver households: our waste levels skyrocket! Now that’s something truly frightful. To help make the season more delightful, and sustainable, we did a little digging and found some options to help folks adjust their holiday routines to take care of our planet. 

  1. During the holiday season the average American wastes increases by 25%! A good portion of this is, sadly, uneaten food. Luckily, there’s a great tool to help folks get a better idea of how much food to make for any number of guests. Just plug in how many visitors you’re expecting, and how many meals’ worth of leftovers you’d like to have, and the tool tells you how many pounds of protein, sides, and desserts you’ll need. 
  1. If you’ve already purchased your ingredients, it’s not too late! Transforming those leftovers into other meals, like soups, pot pies, and casseroles, is a great way to reduce the amount of wasted food at the holiday table. 
  1. Lastly, remember to compost anything you can’t eat! It’s so much better for our environment than letting food waste become methane in our landfills.
  1. Got broken string lights? It happens to us all. This year, if you have old lights that need to be disposed of–recycle them! Yes, you read that right. Denver has a network of light recycling drop-off locations available FOR FREE throughout December. Find a location near you. 
  1. While we’re on the topic of recycling, did you know there are drop-off days for your tree? Once you’ve removed all decorations from the tree, you can bring it to one of twelve locations across the city throughout January. Your tree will then become mulch that you can pick up in May! 
  1. Host an upcycled White Elephant. This tip is inspired by the yearly We Don’t Waste holiday party. Gather with friends and family, take an item from your home that still has lots of life left in it, that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, and have some fun! It’s a great way to extend the life cycle of household items and reduce the impact of gift exchanges. 

Friends giving gifts to each other while sitting at table. In background Christmas tree. Christmas holidays concept.

Please consider donating if you’d like to help us support increasing Denver’s food security this holiday season. What better way to bring holiday cheer than ensuring your neighbors can participate? 

Finally, from the We Don’t Waste team, we hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Multicolor Happy Holidays framed by candy canes, pinecones, cranberries, and string lights.