Try e-cards or look for greetings made with recycled content (the more post-consumer content, the better). Include a note with your cards that they can be donated for reuse by sending to St. Judes Ranch for Children, where they will be repurposed into greetings for 2015. Other types of occasions are needed as well, so save those December birthday cards!
Show some style when shopping by bringing your own reusable bags. Choose minimally-packaged items made with recycled content and give items that will be treasured, not thrown out before the next holiday season. Consider giving experiences, homemade and vintage gifts. Find new joy in old favorites that are broken or need refreshing with Pop Up Repair. Get hundreds of toy-free gift ideas for a more meaningful holiday here and here. Remember to wrap it recyclable by using old newspaper, paper gift wrap, paper gift bags or reusable bags and containers that keep on giving all year.
Look for items in recyclable packaging and buy minimally- or non-packaged fresh produce, like that from Greenmarket. Compost your vegetable trimmings by bringing them to select Greenmarkets or other drop-off sites. Prevent waste by making small changes such as using recyclable aluminum foil rather than plastic wrap for food storage. Serve your masterpiece on reusable plates and offer guests reusable flatware, glassware and napkins.
Wrapping paper, gift boxes, cardboard and other paper packaging can go out with other paper recycling (remove tape, ribbons and other decorations). Eggnog cartons, wine bottles, olive containers, cookie tins and hard-to-open rigid plastic packaging are easy to recycle alongside the rest of your metal, glass, plastic and cartons. Block Styrofoam and foam peanut packaging are not recyclable, but alternative paper packaging can be included in your recycling pile. Styrofoam peanuts can be reused, and cornstarch peanuts can be composted. For those so inclined, even corks can be recycled—bring to any Whole Foods and find other drop-sites here. Need more recycling help? Use this search tool from the NYC Department of Sanitation.
If you're putting up a real tree for the holidays, plan to chip in at MulchFest on January 10 & 11! Trees (cleaned of stands, lights, tinsel and ornaments) will be collected and recycled into mulch for NYC parks at designated sites from Jan 3-11. Bring your own bag to select sites and take home mulch for your yard, garden or street tree. Find citywide drop-off sites and mulch pick-up locations here. If you miss MulchFest, the city will pick up trees (also stripped of ornaments, etc) curbside from January 5-16, barring any snow disruptions.
When upgrading or unloading electronics, the curb will no longer be an option as of January 1, 2015. Find recycling resources here and check out the "After the Holidays" e-waste collection schedule from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, with events in all five boroughs.
Clear out ill-fitting, outdated and otherwise unwanted clothing and other textiles (even the stuff you spilled cranberry sauce on at the holiday party) and bring them to one of GrowNYC's weekly collections for reusable and recyclable textiles.
GrowNYC's Stop 'N' Swap® is the ultimate re-gifting party. Bring reusable items to share (portable items only) or simply bring a tote bag or two to take home things you can put to reuse. Unstuff your home at our last swap of 2014 on December 6 and check back for winter swap dates and locations at GrowNYC.org/swap.
From all of us at GrowNYC, thank you for helping green our city by taking our "recycling challenge" at community events, volunteering to help collect recyclables at public events, recycling textiles and food scraps at our Greenmarkets, attending our Stop 'N' Swaps and more throughout 2014. We look forward to seeing you out at many of the great recycling events that will kick off a sustainable 2015. Happy Holidays!
For more tips on keeping your holidays green and merry, visit NYCWasteLess.