WasteWise Holiday Tip #2: DIY decorations and gifts can be more memorable, less wasteful

WasteWise Holiday Tip #2: DIY decorations and gifts can be more memorable, less wasteful
Posted on 12/02/2019

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, Americans generate 25 percent more waste than at any other time of year. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, Americans annually discard an estimated:

  • 38,000 miles of ribbon, or enough to wrap around the planet (with some left for a bow);
  • $11 billion worth of packing material;
  • And 15 million used Christmas trees.


Make memories with family and friends, and reduce your environmental impact this holiday season, by choosing to get creative and crafty with do-it-yourself decorations and gifts.


“If you think back to your childhood, most of your happiest holiday memories probably aren’t about the stuff you received,” said Lane County Master Recycler Coordinator Kelly Bell. “The happiest memories are of time spent with loved ones, playing games, catching up and sharing meals during the holidays. Getting together with friends and family to make decorations and gifts is a great way to make those special memories.”


DIY Decorations

  • Trim a tree with popcorn, cranberries or pinecones—these items are typically compostable. (Never feed wildlife “people food,” including popcorn.)
  • Make snowflakes from 6-pack rings, delightful wreaths from old greeting cards, and a garland of stars from non-recyclable plastic packaging.
  • Decorate a live tree in your yard. Bring a potted tree or evergreen boughs inside to decorate.
  • Place wrapping paper in frames for seasonal décor or use it to make fun, easy placemats.
  • Use wrapping paper to build a paper Christmas tree (recyclable!), hanging streamers or bunting.


DIY Gifts

Have a gift making-themed holiday party.

From soup mixes and hot chocolate kits to personal care products and textile crafts, these elegant yet economical gifts are simple to assemble. And don’t worry about messing up the kitchen or getting everything perfect. Traditions are enriched by the stories shared from previous years, including stories of mishaps!


Record yourself reading a book.

This is especially great if you have two or three people on your list that will enjoy listening to the same book. Kids can do this, too. An older child can record a story book for younger siblings or cousins.


DIY Gift Wrap

  • Decorate cereal, shoe or other boxes to use as gift boxes.
  • Use comics, maps, calendars, posters and fabric wrapping in place of wrapping paper. Fabric wrapping can be knotted, pinned or tied with a ribbon.
  • Reuse last year’s bows. Make bows out of yarn, dried flowers, video/ audio tape, or Mylar food wrappers. Make bows out of leftover wrapping paper.
  • Package gifts such as baking mixes, bath supplies and more in mason jars. Use fabric scraps or wrapping paper for decorative lids. Clay flower pot bases can be used as a lid and secured to the pot with ribbon, twine or string.
  • Write the name on the wrapping itself or make tags from last year’s holiday cards.


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WasteWise Lane County

WasteWise Lane County offers education, tools and resources that residents, schools, and businesses can use to reduce waste, conserve resources and live more sustainably. To find out what can be reused or recycled, visit www.lanecountyor.gov/garbageguru. Be sure to sign up for waste prevention and recycling e-news and alerts and “like” us on Facebook!



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