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Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets & Summaries > Waste Prevention > [INFORM's Tips for a Cleaner, "Greener" Holiday]

INFORM's Tips for a Cleaner, "Greener" Holiday

One of the enduring images of the December holiday season is the imposing mound of garbage that follows the wrapping and opening of gifts, the office party, and the holiday dinner. But the holidays can be just as much fun, just as meaningful, and just as colorful without being so wasteful. How?

By celebrating a clean environment along with the holidays, and by giving "green" gifts during the holidays.

As managing our garbage becomes an increasingly costly and difficult problem, environmentalists and many government leaders have come to realize that the best solution to the waste problem in the US is to prevent the creation of garbage in the first place. We can all play an important role by shifting our buying habits from disposable products to more durable and long-lasting goods.

Why is this so important? At home, in school, at work, and at play, US residents throw away more than twice as much waste per person as citizens of other industrialized nations with comparable standards of living. Each year, we discard billions of razors, pens, plastic and paper plates, cups, and bags. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day alone, Americans produce an extra one million tons of trash per week compared to any other time of the year.


Shopping around for a new piece of electronic equipment this holiday season...perhaps a cell phone? Before replacing your old phone, bring in your used unit to a wireless store so it can be recycled or refurbished and reused. Better yet, go to,, or for ways to dispose of used phones so they don't end up in a landfill or incinerator. (See INFORM's new report, Calling All Cell Phones, for more information on cell phone collection, reuse, and recycling.)

Give gifts that are unpackaged or minimally packaged, without unnecessary plastic wrap or cardboard, and buy gifts made from recycled materials when available.

Give durable and long-lasting items that replace disposables or highly polluting items, such as:

Or give a gift that isn't an object, such as:

Or give a reused item, such as something bought at an antique shop or thrift store.

Don't put usable items in the trash! Donate unwanted gifts, clothing, furniture, and housewares to a local charity or thrift emporium.

Gift Giving

Try to avoid unnecessary wrapping. The average consumer wraps 20 gifts during the holidays. If just three of those gifts were wrapped in reused paper, the paper saved could cover 45,000 football fields!

Packing for the Mail

Consider these alternatives for your holiday mailing needs:


Holiday Cards

One year's worth of holiday cards would fill a football field 10 stories high!


Tree Ornaments

Try these alternatives to buying new items:


Other Tips


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