Holiday Sustainability Tips

Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of the year? The greater Portland area generates millions of tons of waste during the holidays. This year, you can start a new tradition to throw away less and reuse and recycle more. From gift-giving to clean-up, small changes can have a big impact.

Gift Mindfully by Reducing and Reusing

When giving gifts, less can be more. Rather than buying new things, consider giving experiences, like tickets to a show or museum, a gift card to a favorite local restaurant or coffee shop, a spa day, or a pass to access outdoor recreation sites like the Oregon State Parks Pass or Northwest Forest Pass. If you are a maker or doer, you can gift your skills by making someone a home cooked meal or crafted decoration, or helping them with a project around the house.

You can also find unique gifts at local thrift or vintage shops. Or consider regifting! Your friend might also love that book you read this summer, and it will help you free up space on your bookshelf for your next great read.

When you do decide on the perfect gift, get creative with your wrapping. Old calendar and magazine pages can make fun wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes and bows are durable and can be reused year to year, and a festive dish or hand towel can serve as wrapping and gift all in one. Visit for more ideas.

Recycle Responsibly

After the holidays are over, make sure to dispose of decorations, gift wrapping, and packing materials properly. Paper gift wrap and tissue paper is recyclable, but any wrapping or bags embellished with glitter, metallic foil, or plastic goes in the garbage. Wreaths and greenery can go in your yard debris bin, as long as you have removed all decorations and wire. There are also several options to recycle your Christmas tree in Lake Oswego. For more holiday disposal information, see Clackamas County's Holiday Disposal and Sustainability Guide.  

Received a gift that you don’t love? Donate it to a local thrift store or nonprofit organization, or offer it for free via your neighborhood Buy Nothing Group or on NextDoor. If you’re not sure what to do with something, check Find a Recycler for donation and recycling options near where you live.  

Happy sustainable holidays!