Kate Brocato, Communications and Program Manager | December 1, 2022

With all of the decorating, gift giving, and feasting, the holidays can cause a big jump in our personal consumption and waste production. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste can increase by as much as 25%. 

However, it is easier than you think to consume less and recycle more this time of year. Here are Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s (YVSC) tips to reduce your impact this season:

Wrap gifts in recyclable materials Most shiny gift wrapping paper is not recyclable because it has high ink content and low paper content. Instead, wrap gifts with old maps, fabric remnants, colorful dish towels, reusable cloth bags, butcher paper, newspaper, or paper bags. DIY wrapping paper can still be made beautiful using stamps, paints, or natural materials as embellishments. 

Give an experience Material items tend to create more waste and have a bigger environmental impact down the road. Consider giving gifts like a snowshoe excursion with Yampatika or a gift card to support one of our many local restaurants. If you really need to buy something online, be sure to order all your gifts from the same site at the same time so you can reduce packaging and have it all shipped at once or check to see if the site has an option to reduce packaging. Many online shops are headed in this direction.

Reduce waste at celebratory meals – Ideally, serve on dishware that can be washed and reused. If you need to serve on single-use tableware, purchase recyclable or items made from recycled materials. Reduce food waste by planning portions and eating or freezing any leftovers. However, we aren’t all perfect. Some food waste is inevitable and that’s ok! Consider composting with one of our local compost companies, Cowgirl Compost or Twin Enviro, to turn what would have been waste into valuable, nutrient-rich material.

Create DIY holiday cards – This year, try your hand at creating your own holiday cards using recycled materials. Steamboat Creates has an abundance of recycled art supplies that have been donated by community members. They are available to the public for free and would serve as a great resource to get your cards started.

Recycle your holiday lights and old electronics – Did you unbox your Christmas lights to find them burnt out or broken? The Yampa Valley Recycles Depot is here for all of your Christmas light recycling needs. Did you unwrap a shiny new smartphone or tablet this holiday season? The YVR Depot can recycle all of your outdated or broken electronics as well. So stop by the new location at 2851 Riverside Plz Steamboat Springs, CO 80487 on Wednesdays or Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Decorate using natural materials – Decorating for the holidays is a fun way to bring holiday cheer into your home. However, many decorations are often made from materials that are not recyclable and may take hundreds of years to break down. Consider making your own decorations using natural materials like garland made from dried oranges and cranberries or pine boughs cut from the bottom of your Christmas tree. Not only is it more sustainable to do this, but it can also be a fun family activity.

Recycle your tree – Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in landfills. Recycle your tree this year with the City of Steamboat Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department where they will chip your tree into mulch to be used in city parks. More details to come on dates and location. Please remove all lights, decorations and wire, and leave the tree intact rather than cutting it up to make for easy and safe chipping.