The 12 Days of Wastefulness

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a bunch of clothes that didn’t fit, a Grey’s Anatomy DVD box set, and a Shake Weight I *KNOW* was re-gifted from the White Elephant party at his work.

Ever feel like that? Hopefully your true love knows you a bit better. Luckily mine does, too. I didn’t actually receive these gifts. Mostly because I buy my clothes second hand, I don’t own a DVD player, and okay, the Shake Weight thing was actually a real situation, but we re-gifted that x-rated bad boy that very season.


This month, Zero Waste California is going to tackle 12 of our most wasteful habits related to the winter holiday season.

(Not consecutively, but all 12 WILL happen before December 25th).


Day 1: Christmas Trees


Which is more “environmentally-friendly,” live or artificial Christmas trees? Or perhaps we can inspire you to consider an alternative Christmas tree with our collection of favorites.


Day 2: Gift Giving


To gift card or not to gift card? That is the question. And the answer is, we got you covered. If you’re not sure what to get someone, don’t just buy something random! We’re hooking you up with lots of waste-free gift ideas that are sure to be memorable and spread smiles!


Day 3: Gift Wrapping


50% of America’s annual paper usage goes to decorating products. And what’s worse, a lot of commercial wrapping paper is not recyclable because it’s mixed with plastic, foil, or glitter. Here are some fun alternatives to commercial wrapping paper (and some alternatives to paper all together!)

Day 4: Charity


The true meaning of the holiday season is giving, so why not give to those who need it most? We’ve listed some great resources that give back to the community and help to reduce waste!


Day 5: Greeting Cards


The tradition of sending new paper Christmas cards is not the most sustainable option anymore. We have some awesome, alternative ways to say Merry Christmas to your long distance family and friends this December!


Day 6: Stockings (and Stocking Stuffers!)

From cheap store-bought stockings to crappy impulse-bought stocking stuffers, Zero Waste California has some instructions on designing your own stockings, and some zero waste gifts to stuff them with!

Day 7: Company Parties

Businesses have a unique opportunity, nay obligation, to educate their employees about zero waste practices. These practices, when utilized correctly, can actually be extremely cost effective. During events like holiday parties, why not implement some zero waste ideas to help reduce waste during an already extremely wasteful time of year, and spread some environmentally friendly knowledge that may change people’s lives!


Day 8: Decorations

Christmas decorations? Reuse, reuse, reuse! Save those bows, ribbons, and gently used wrapping paper and make them last as long as you can! THEN buy second hand items, or better, make your own decorations!


Day 9: Baking


Can we really call it Christmas without throwing some baked goods into the mix? I think not. Here are some scrumptious, zero waste, holiday-themed recipes to make your kitchen smell so good, everyone will want to be at your home for the holidays.


Day 10: Christmas Lights


Christmas lights are strung on plastic wire. But still, some are more environmentally-friendly than others. But let’s be real, some of those cheap-o strands you see at the are not meant to last. Before you know it, you have a pile of dead Christmas lights. So how to you properly recycle them? Can they even be recycled?

Day 11: Go Slow!


Haste makes waste! Especially around the holidays. Don’t rush to wrap your presents, you’ll probably waste tape and wrapping paper. Don’t race to get to a party, you might slip on ice! If you’re in a rush to rip open those presents, you might not be able to reuse that lovely wrapping paper. And isn’t this all about reusing as much as possible?


Day 12: Cleaning Up


Once the big day is over, how do we responsibly get rid of any waste we may created? What do we do with unwanted gifts we received? And don’t worry, we some recipes for those delicious Christmas leftovers, too!

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