Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips

As 2019 concludes with a festive holiday season, University Facilities and Services would like to offer some tips to help you celebrate sustainably.

While it is a season of joy, unfortunately the holidays are also the most wasteful time of year in the United States. Americans dispose of 25% more trash between Thanksgiving until New Year’s compared to the entire rest of the year—this amounts to 25 million tons of garbage! Over 333 million square feet of wrapping paper, or 5,787 NFL football fields worth, is used to package gifts. More than 2 billion holiday cards are sent each year, enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle during this time of year.


  • Give creatively, thinking beyond material things (e.g. dance lessons, concert tickets, massage therapy, donations towards a cause etc.)
  • Purchase a pesticide-free tree
  • Use energy-efficient LED lighting to decorate your home and tree
  • Take public transportation or carpool when shopping or going to gatherings
  • Support local businesses and farms to reduce CO2 emissions
  • Reduce plastic by using reusable tote bags when shopping
  • Avoid using disposable dishes and cutlery
  • Send electronic cards (e-cards) rather than traditional paper cards
  • Reduce food waste by sending leftovers home with family and friends


  • Reuse gift wrap, gift bags, ribbons, and bows
  • Use kitchen drying rags to wrap gifts; it’s like two gifts in one!
  • Purchase decorations that you can use year after year
  • Replant, compost, or mulch your tree
  • Compost unwanted leftovers
  • Purchase recycled materials (cards, stationary, wrapping paper, etc.)
  • Reuse old sweaters to create an ugly holiday sweater


  • Recycle gift wrap, cardboard boxes, and cards
  • Use paper bags and recycle them after use
  • Recycle any plastic bottles and glass
  • Use old newspapers as a trendy alternative wrapping paper, then recycle
  • Make cards out of recyclable materials
  • Make your own gifts out of old materials
  • Donate old clothes to a local organization or a local thrift store

Planning a holiday trip? Consider reading this Student’s Corner post for sustainable travel tips. If you are leaving the University for the holidays, please see our Holiday Energy Savings Checklist use these simple measures to conserve energy in your office before taking off:

  • Unplug all kitchen/ break room appliances, such as microwaves, coffee makers, and kettles etc.
  • Unplug all office appliances and devices including lamps, televisions, computers, printers,
    chargers, space heaters etc. Even when electronic devices are not being used, they still consume
    energy when plugged in, a concept called a “phantom load”. If all of the devices are plugged
    into a single power strip, simply flip the switch to off.
  • Remove all perishables from the fridge and increase the temperature to the maximum setting
    possible. Higher temperatures tend to need less energy to sustain.
  • Lower your thermostat to 60 degrees in the winter or raise it to 85 degrees in the summer. This will prevent unnecessary heating/cooling while you are away. If you need assistance or have
    questions, call the Facilities Customer Service Center at 585-273-4567.
  • Close your windows and blinds to keep heat from escaping your room and building.
  • Close all doors to contain conditioned air.
  • Turn off all your lights.

Consult you Department Administrator to find out if there are department specific guidelines you need to follow before you leave for your break.

The University and planet will thank you for reducing your energy consumption. Happy holidays!


Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022.

Photo Credits: Small Footprint Family

2 Replies to “Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips”

  1. There are some fantastic ideas and tips here, thank you. It’s a great idea to make gifts and cards for family and friends. I’ve wrapped presents in recycled newspaper before and reused wrapping paper. I made lots of gifts last year and bought from high street shops as well as online retailers like who have lots of recycled card like Colorset available too.

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