(Courtesy photo)

This holiday season, Caltrans and the Clean California Campaign, in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, are encouraging Californians to make the holidays greener by reducing their trash and waste.

This is especially important this time of year as studies show Americans produce 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

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“By making simple yet impactful changes, Californians can minimize waste and help keep their communities cleaner,” said Tony Taveras, director of Caltrans, which oversees Clean California. “By making greener choices this holiday season, Californians will also set a great tone to maintain a Clean California throughout the new year.”

Caltrans and Keep America Beautiful’s recommended waste-reduction holiday tips include:

  • Recyclable Gift-Wrapping Paper: Instead of traditional wrapping paper that often ends up in landfills, opt for recyclable or reusable alternatives. This includes reusing newspaper and paper bags in place of wrapping paper for gifts. Don’t forget to recycle the paper afterward – just remove the tape. Another creative idea for wrapping can be gently-used scarves, handkerchiefs, or tea towels to wrap gifts. You can also package baked goods and other edible gifts in reusable glass bottles or tins.
  • Recyclable/E-Holiday Cards: In an age of digital connectivity, sending electronic holiday greeting cards can be an eco-conscious alternative to traditional paper cards. Making your own or using recyclable paper are other sustainable alternatives to traditional holiday cards.
  • Natural Decorations: Buy a live, potted Christmas tree to decorate – then plant it in your backyard (if you have one!) after the holiday. If you do cut down a tree, be sure to recycle it after the holiday. Clean California and Keep America Beautiful recommend using items like pinecones, holly, and evergreen branches, emphasizing the beauty and sustainability of such choices. You’ll save money by not splurging on decorations and be able to return everything to nature after the holidays.
  • Greener Gatherings: When entertaining, cut down on excess waste by using real dishware and cutlery instead of disposable plates and utensils. Also, use washable cloth tablecloths and napkins instead of paper options. Make recycling easy for guests by placing recycling bins beside every trash bin, and make sure the products you provide can be reused or recycled.

For more tips and tricks to make your celebrations eco-friendly, visit kab.org.