5 Ways to Reduce Waste this Christmas

Many things are changing about the way people shop and celebrate this year. We're staying home more, we're online shopping more, and we're finding new ways to shop small, local, and live our values as consumers. What's that all going to mean for the holiday season? It's the shoppin'est, consumer'est, most wasteful time of year in many parts of the world. It's a beautiful time of togetherness, love, joy, and renewal, but at the same time there's so much paper trash, food waste, and single use plastic during the holidays it can be hard for the earth-conscious among us to enjoy it to its fullest.

But there's ways to reduce your carbon footprint at Christmas! There's ways to avoid those mountains of non-recyclable wrapping paper, plastic boxes, clothing tags, and stickers! If you're looking to dip your toe into a more sustainable holiday season, BooginHead has some ideas that might inspire. Read on for five ways to reduce waste this Christmas.

Reduce Waste This Christmas, Idea #1: The Thrift Store

If the name of the game is reducing reusing, and recycling this Christmas, the place to be is the thrift store. The toy section alone is a Christmas miracle. Young kids absolutely do not care if a toy is brand new, and packaging is often a frustration, so buy your kids a cart load of thrifted toys for $15 and watch the magic happen. They're not waiting for their new toys to get unboxed, you're not saddled with a bunch of cardboard and plastic packaging, and the Earth isn't burdened with another piece of trash it really can't endure.

bulldozer at a landfill


It's time to acclimate the attitude with your family that secondhand things are just as appreciated and valued as brand-new things, for the sake of our planet. There are so many wonderful things you can find for the adults in your life, too - beautiful servingware, books, appliances, like-new clothes and dresses, and sometimes even weights and never-used exercise equipment. And since people are constantly donating new things to thrift stores, the inventory is constantly changing, which means more opportunities for you to find the next perfect gift! Yaaay, getting out of the house!

Reduce Waste this Christmas, Idea #2: Reusable Wrapping

You know what else is at the thrift store in bountiful supply? Handkerchiefs. The paisley ones. Who is making all these handkerchiefs? Has anyone used a paisley handkerchief in the past 50 years? The answer is no, they keep getting donated to thrift stores. Thrift stores also have bolts and bolts and yards and yards of donated fabric, tablecloths, pillowcases, sheets, and cloth napkins, all of which will cost you pennies and last you the next 10 years at least. Look at this:

Furoshiki wrapped gift

Festive AND waste free!

The fancy name for wrapping a gift in fabric is Furoshiki, a Japanese method of wrapping and transporting goods that's said to originate from the Edo period between 1603 and 1868. It can be an art form if you're the artistic type - here's a resource from Spoonflower.com of 6 Ways to Wrap a Gift with Furoshiki. But if you're just a person with a bunch of thrift store hankies and a desire to reduce waste, all you have to do is tie the corners together.

It's that easy, and that cute.

Did you know wrapping paper that is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it is not recyclable? So, like, all wrapping paper is not recyclable. But with Furoshiki and a bunch of thrift store fabric, gone are the piles and piles of wrapping paper. Gone are the big black trash bags marring your Christmas vignette. Gone is the sinking pit you feel in your stomach when you see the carnage of unrecyclable glitter trash in every corner of your living room. Just fold up your neat and tidy hankies into neat and tidy little squares and pack them away for the next occasion.

Reduce Waste this Christmas, Idea #3: Ditch the Gift Tags

There's a better way to mark who gets what gift than writing names on an adhesive gift tag sticker and sticking it to a box. Stickers are pretty bad for the environment, and it's not something we think much about, but there are soooo many stickers, y'all. Looking at only one type of sticker, the stickers we put on produce, SeattleRefined.com found that "if you took all the plastic labels stamped on oranges, bananas, and avocados alone, you could wrap them around the world 1.6 times, a kilometer wide." Oh my god. There are way, way, WAY more stickers in the world than that. Just look at any street sign in the city.

street sign covered in stickers

It's ok, we didn't need to know what that sign said.

So yes, there is a better way because almost anything would be better than contributing to some comically huge belt of stickers choking the planet to death, and the better way is... color coordination.

Choose your weapon! Is it ribbons? Bows? Fabric wrap? In one BooginHead house that uses handkerchiefs as wrapping, it's sparkly pipe cleaners:
Furoshiki wrapped gift, blue pipe cleaner ribbon  Furoshiki wrapped gift, gold pipe cleaner ribbon
Blue for the kid who loves blue, gold for the adult who's worth his weight in it


The best part is, it's this household's second Christmas on the Pipe Cleaner System. They're reusable, and have even served over many birthdays! Just save them, stretch them out, and roll them up in the ugly handkerchief you bought but didn't use, and they'll be good for years to come. The sparkles make a pretty picture under the tree, too. No visual interruptions from big, white bag tags.

Furoshiki wrapped gifts under tree

Need we say more?

present with gift tag that says yuck

We said more. But we're digging the fabric wrapping here!

The best BEST part is, with a color coordination labeling system, younger kids can help in the handing out of gifts, because there are no names to read, just colors to recognize. Mama is purple! Sister is blue! Dad is gold! Brother is green!

Reduce Waste this Christmas, Idea #4: Compost

It's easier than you think. Our favorite method is from the Zero Waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau, who says to just throw it on the ground. Strategically. This one's hard if you don't have some ground to throw it on, like maybe you live in a city, but many cities have municipal composting these days, and they'd love to have you as a customer.

Christmas is a food holiday, from the roasts to the sides to the snacks to the treats, and there's going to be a lot of waste if you're not careful. Leftovers, cuttings, drippings, roots, and leaves and stems... most of it, even bones, can just go directly into the dirt. Really, it's ok. If you live in a place with predators, be careful about bones and fat, but otherwise, just pick a spot, loosen the soil with a shovel, and dump it out. There's a few more steps to conscientious composting, like adding some grass clippings and a ripped up paper bag or two, but it's easy stuff that's hardly any more work than Chef Bonneau's lazy composting. And it feels so good to finally do. You'll notice your actual trash you haul to the curb every week reduce dramatically as soon as you start composting. Best feeling in the world.

hands and compost

"I THREW IT ON THE GROUND!" -Andy Samberg, sage of our era

Reduce Waste this Christmas, Idea #5: Homemade Christmas Cookies and Snacks

There's no waste if you ate it all! People have a lot of stuff already. If there's someone in your life you need to give a gift to, but maybe they live in a small place, or they already have everything they could ever want, or they're just impossible to shop for, make them something delicious. Remember the thrift store idea up there? It's the perfect place to stock up on cute containers to package things like...

homemade vanilla extract
homemade granola
homemade Christmas cookies
homemade fudge
homemade spice blends
Homemade caramel sauce


Who wouldn't want to receive one of these gorgeous edible gifts this year? That would be one dedicated Scrooge.

That's it! BooginHead's suggestions for five ways to reduce waste this holiday season. Let us know what you try! We wish you a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, rest, and relaxation. You deserve it.

BooginHead is a small, independent, woman-owned business that makes the cutest pacifier clips, baby bibs, and even face masks. A portion of our monthly proceeds are donated to COVID-19 relief local and nationwide, and to the fight for a more just and equitable world. See our BooginHead Blog for details on that and our other philanthropic efforts!