Winter Holiday Zero Waste Tips!

This winter season, go green!

Did you know…

  • on average people generate 25% more trash during the holiday season.
  • approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year.
  • LED lights use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent holiday lights, can last up to 10 times longer.

With some creative thinking, you can still celebrate the spirit but avoid an aftermath of trash.  Here are some grinch-free Zero Waste holiday ideas to help get you started.

Local Recycling Options:

  • Paper gift wrap and paper gift bags can be recycled curbside or at the depot -> REMOVE tape, bows, strings or any other non-paper decor first. Avoid non-accepted foil wrap.
  • Styrofoam (white or coloured) can be recycled at depots only. Packing peanuts and stryofoam type sheets are NOT ACCEPTED.  Free
  • Christmas trees -> look for the Special Olympics tree chipping fundraiser to recycle your tree.  The tree-cycling fundraiser event usually takes place during the first week or second week of January in the parking lot beside Mother Nature.  By donation
  • Burnt out Christmas lights?  Take strings of lights to Augusta Recyclers and place in the bin beside the recycling depot.  This bin is not always labelled but contains electrical wires, strings of lights and is apart of the LIGHT RECYCLE program.  Free
  • Dead batteries? Recycle them at any of the Regional District recycling depots, Rona, or Canadian Tire. Free
  • Check out the Waste Wise guide for a comprehensive list of local recycling options.

Aim to reduce & reuse first if you can, both your recycling and trash bins will thank you!


Alternative Trees:

  • Decorate a houseplant
  • Buy a live tree that can be potted for the holidays and planted in the spring
  • Create a true west coast holiday tree from driftwood!
  • Decorate a tree in your yard
  • Save space with a wall tree

Waste-free Parties:

  • Serve food on reusable dishware
  • Avoid streamers, balloons and other decorations designed for one-time use
  • Create centerpieces from what you have, like pottery pieces, glass ornament balls, fresh  fruit, pine cones, squash, gourds and fallen leaves
  • Choose potted plants to provide a year-round green
  • Plan your dinner party menu to include seasonal, organic, local food 
  • Use LED holiday lights
  • Check out our Zero Waste Guide for Event Planners for more ideas

Holiday Card Ideas:

  • Send E-cardscards
  • Cut up old cards to use for gift tags
  • Look for cards that can easily be recycle (without embellishments like foil or ribbon)
  • Get crafty and make your own (there’s many downloadable templates online)
  • Look for cards that are made from post consumer recycled paper

Alternative Gift Wrap Ideas:


  • Old maps
  • Comic pages from newspapers
  • Decorated paper bags
  • Old scraps of fabric sewn into a gifts bag (Bonus: Reusable!)
  • Old calendars
  • Furoshiki (Japanese fabric folding art for  gifts).  Link has great visuals.
  • Cereal box gift boxes
  • Your child’s art
  • Sheet music
  • Give a gift in a gift; use a tea towel or scarf as a gift to wrap your gift
  • Wallpaper samples
  • Reuse the mandarin orange tissue paper and box

Gift Ideas:


  • Make something yourself (cookies, jam, a scarf, a wooden toy…)
  • Shop locally (Local art shops and the Winter Market are great places to find locally made treasures)
  • Choose products with minimal packaging
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Think outside the box & gift experiences (Gift cards are available for our local restaurants, movie theater, recreation complex or a fitness class)
  • Make a donation to an organization on behalf of a loved one.
  • Gift your time  (Dog walking, babysitting, snowshoveling…)
  • Gift your talent (Computer Skills, Cooking lesson, Guitar lessons…)
  • Re-gift something
  • Gift something to promote zero waste (A water bottle, a travel mug, a reusable to go container, reusable shopping bags…)

Holiday Baking Ideas:

  • Buy your baking supplies in bulk to cut down on the amount of packaging you’ll be bringing home.  Better yet, take in your containers to Ecossentials, fill them up and avoid packaging altogether
  • Bake for your alternative dieted friends (gluten free, dairy free, organic, nut free…).
  • Fill a mason jar with the dry ingredients for a favorite recipe


Food Scraps:

Holiday festivities can lead to a feast of leftovers!  Hopefully this leads to a few lazy lunches, but what to do with the bones and food scraps? Take your food scraps and food soiled paper to the Town Centre Recycling depot (located in the parking lot next to Rona) Mon-Sat 8:00 am-5:30 pm. Yard waste can be brought to Sunshine Disposal at 4474 Franklin Ave on Wed & Sat 10am – 4pm.  For a list of accepted items, check out our “What’s In / What’s Out” identification page that can also be downloaded.

Waste Reduction Tips

Want to reduce waste at your home or office? Here’s how:

Love Food Hate Waste.  Food waste is an urgent, but solvable, global challenge. One third of all food produced globally is wasted.  To put that in perspective, every day in Canada we waste:

  • 470,000 heads of lettuce,
  • 1,200,000 tomatoes,
  • 2,400,000 potatoes,
  • 750,000 loaves of bread,
  • 1,225,000 apples,
  • 555,000 bananas,
  • 1,000,000 cups of milk
  • 450,000 eggs

Food isn’t garbage and keeping food out of the garbage is good for our environment and our pocketbooks.  For the average Canadian household our wasteful habits amount to 140 kilograms of wasted food per year – at a cost of more than $1,100 per year!

Want to know how to make food go further and waste less?

Check out Love Food Hate Waste for great tips on meal planning, recipes for using up food before it expires and how to keep things fresh.

Compost.  Composting food scraps and yard trimmings reduces the volume of garbage being sent to landfills, cuts down on greenhouse gases and creates composted soil product for farms and gardens.  Composting is also a cost savings opportunity On average food scraps make up 40% or more of the waste stream.  By diverting food scraps out of the garbage, you can save money on disposal fees.
Here’s where to compost food scraps and yard waste for FREE:

  • Town Centre Recycling Depot (in the parking lot area behind RONA).
    Drop-off during hours of operation only (Monday-Saturday 8:00am-5:30pm). Loads must be under 50L/20 lbs
  • Tla’amin Recycling Depot (Near Salish Centre 4885 Hwy 101). Drop-off during hours of operation only (Tuesday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm).
    Loads must be under 50L/20 lbs
  • Loads over 50L/20lbs must be taken directly to Sunshine Disposal and Recycling Wednesday and Saturday ONLY 10:00am-4:00pm at 4484 Franklin Ave. Maximum load is 2 yards.





Say No to Single Use Items.  It’s time to go beyond “bring your own bag” and add metal straw, reusable cup, metal or wood utensils and to-go ware for leftovers and so much more.  You can have a great cup of coffee without using a single serve coffee pod or paper to-go cup with a lid.  even if you only buy one takeaway coffee a week, that’s still 52 disposable cups gone to waste over a year.  Say no to plastic produce bags.  What are we worried about? That our apples won’t get along with our broccoli during the trip home? Or is it that the produce will get dirty? Hey, it grew in the dirt, and we’re going to wash it anyway, right? At the grocery store, you can put produce directly into your cart and then into your reusable basket or bag. Check out 100 tips to a plastic free life at

Give up shampoo in plastic bottles. There are several plastic-free options:
The No-Poo method uses a baking soda & water wash and an apple cider vinegar rinse.
If No-Poo seems too hard-core, there are solid shampoo bars you can use that both shampoo and condition your hair plastic free.

Make every Lunch a Zero Waste Lunch.  If you are packing a lunch for work or play pack it in a reusable container with your cutlery, reusable water bottle and cloth napkin (just to be extra classy).  Try natural beeswax coated cloth wraps instead of plastic cling film which you can purchase or make yourself! Click here for the DIY version.

Join the slow Fashion Movement.  Slow fashion promotes a more ethical and sustainable way of living and consuming. It encompasses the whole range of ‘‘sustainable,’’ ‘‘eco,’’ ‘‘green,’’ and ‘‘ethical’’ fashion movement. This movement is practiced through clothing swaps, borrowing or renting clothes, buying vintage, redesigning old clothes, shopping from smaller producers, making clothes and accessories at home and buying garments that last longer and are made with natural fibres with sustainable processes and dyes.

Drink Tap Water.  Around the world, one million plastic bottles are bought every minute. This figure is expected to increase by 20% by 2021. In Canada, most communities have access to high quality drinking water– and it’s from our taps.  Fill your water bottle at home and on the go.  If you are a local business or facility join the Refill Revolution. All you have to do is put a put up a sticker or poster inviting people to come refill their empty water bottle at your establishment.  Make your business an agent for change.

To learn more about the Refill Revolution or to start a local Revolution in Powell River check out or  We have some stickers to give away.