As 2016 comes to an end, life gets a bit busier: family and friends’ gatherings, shopping, work parties, and more shopping! Bustling from place to place, it’s hard to recognize the impact of all of these extra activities, especially concerning solid waste. Waste disposal increases by 25% percent in the United States alone –with an extra 5 billion pounds of waste heading to landfill.  

Though the statistic is shocking, making a few small ecofriendly changes can be easy and have a big impact! We promise that being a bit “green” during the holidays will not turn you into the Grinch or reduce your enjoyment! Here are a few tips:

Share moments. Set aside a few hours (or a full day) to go explore the park, trail, or festival you have talked about for the last few years and never had time to do. Create an experience for the family that will never be forgotten – one that is “present” free! By spending time with the ones you love and not spending money on a gift, you are creating memories that will last a lifetime – while that toy may be broken in a few months.

Think reusable. When setting the table, going out shopping, or wrapping a present, think reusable. Enjoy your holiday meal on a reusable plate and with a cloth napkin. If you do use disposable dishware, use paper plates that can be put in your brown compost cart rather than Styrofoam (landfill). Remember to take your reusable bags when facing the crowds out shopping! Wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S.   Search “sustainable wrapping ideas” on the Internet to get some creative and fun ecofriendly wrapping suggestions, like using scarves, paper shopping bags, newspapers, and magazine wrap. If using gift bags, write “Re-use Me!” on the tag instead of someone’s name to pass it along to the next person for use.

Handmade or upcycle.  Consider making or buying handmade gifts.  Some of our favorites are: homemade fudge, pre-packaged cookie mix in a mason jar, bath fizzies/sugar scrub, upcycled candles, thank you/birthday cards that can be used throughout the year, soap, and more! If you are not super crafty (like me!), but love to support artisan businesses and reduce your impact on the environment, check out sites like Etsy, ArtFire, eCrater, Supermarket, and many more.

Locally owned. When out shopping for the perfect party favor or present, do not forget to support our locally owned businesses in Napa! Check out for a list of Green Businesses in and around Napa and find great gifts while supporting the community. 

Donate.  Give the gift that keeps on giving by donating to a non-profit working to improve the world has great suggestions!). Your gift doesn’t have to be monetary: donate those extra canned goods, gently used jackets, shoes, or old car seat you have been keeping around to one of the listed agencies:   Good feelings are had all around! 

Local ingredients. When shopping for your ingredients, consider where those apples, carrots, and celery are coming from – are they being produced locally and sustainably? Living in Napa, we are very spoiled to live close to farm fresh vegetables, locally produced cheese and more – all year! By getting your ingredients locally, you support your neighbors and the local economy. And don’t forget: when making your delicious meals, all your food scraps can be put into your brown compost cart! Additionally: you can use all your vegetable scraps to make a homemade soup stock (and then compost them)!

Decorations.  When decorating your home, consider using reusable decorations. Decorations that are reused annually help create a sense of tradition and enjoyment for all involved. If you need to upgrade to new lights, purchase energy efficient LED that will save you money, reduce the environmental impact and have a long lifespan. Consider putting all lights on a timer so that energy bill does not get too out of hand. One of our favorite ways to decorate is by using natural materials from the outside (pine cones or pine clippings) that make the house smell wonderfully and we can easily dispose into the compost when done!

If you get a live tree for the holidays, have it picked up to be composted. Our local Napa Valley Boy Scout troops will pick up trees for a donation the Saturday after New Year’s Day: January 7, 2017.  Additionally, Napa Recycling and Waste Services (NRWS) will accept trees at the curb on your regular pick up day during the second week of January. Just note: all stands, metal spikes, ornaments, lights, and tinsel are removed before pick up!
The City of Napa Recycling Division and Napa Recycling and Waste Services staff wish you and your family a very Happy Green Holiday Season!  NVL