Gift wrapping is one of the biggest sources of waste during the holiday season. Many types of wrapping paper are now composed of recycled material because the paper is meant to be torn apart and thrown away. However, there are some fun alternatives that can help the environment and save you some money.

• Gift bags: even normal gift bags can be reused repeatedly. If you purchase bags in solid colors or simple patterns, the bags can be reused over again for other holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries. Even many online stores now have options for gift wrapping that includes fabric bags that can be reused.

• Shopping Bags: Reusable shopping bags and totes in plain colors or basic design can easily be reused as gift wrap, then reused by the giftee for their own shopping sprees later down the road.

• Crates and Hat Boxes: Sturdy boxes such as wooden crates and hat boxes that use neutral patterns or raw patterns can be easily dressed up with ribbon or fresh sprigs of pine or fir.

• Scrap Fabric: Scrap fabric from your local fabric store, or even scarfs or shawls from thrift stores, can wrap up gift boxes and be tied with a ribbon. As a bonus, these scraps can be reused for rags, craft projects, or re-gifting,

• Jars and Food Storage Containers: If you are gifting food items or small treats that can fit in a mason jar or reusable food storage container, these items can be reused by the giftee for future leftovers.


Plastic ornaments, fake trees, tinsel, and garlands contain high amounts of plastic, vinyl, rubber, and other unsustainable materials. Most of these items should last several years, but inevitably end up in the landfill. To divert future waste, use renewable, all-natural decor.

Use these tips to minimize your environmental impact with your decorations:

• Buy local, natural trees: Natural trees are often grown in northern climates and shipped to warmer climates. Research tree farmers in your area to find local sellers to minimize the amount of transportation.

• Ask for Discards or Cuttings: Some tree lots may be willing to sell or give away branches from trees they cut in their lot. Wire these limbs together to create garlands, swags, or use sprigs for highlights in your tree.

• String Garland the Old-Fashioned Way: Gather the kids together and string popcorn garlands to decorate the tree. This activity brings families together and the garland can decompose naturally or compost after the holiday.

• Use Mason Jars: Instead of plastic ornaments. You can use mason jars or other glass containers for a similar effect. Fill the container with shredded paper or pine needles, pinecones, or other natural elements, then hang with twine.


Christmas lights bring cheer to the season but waste a ton of energy. When stringing lights for the holidays, make sure you also pick up some energy-saving solutions.

String lights easily plug into timers that can program the lights to come on at dusk and automatically shut off at bedtime. This will also eliminate the need to remember to turn off the lights or risk leaving them on all night.

You can also look into installing smart meters that allow you to remote control your Christmas lights, even when you're not home.

Also, make sure when you need to replace a string of lights that you pick up the most efficient LED types. If you're concerned about losing the warmth of old incandescent versions, make sure you look for string rated with "warmer" color temperatures. A color temperature of 2700K should give you a nice, warm glow, while cooler temperatures range from 3000-5000K and should be labeled as "bright white" light.


Before you click the option for free one-day shipping, check to see if you can purchase similar items from a local source.

Shipping and transportation accounts for huge amounts of energy use every year, including gas for semi-trucks hauling goods cross country and ships transporting cargo over the ocean from oversees.

While you may pay a little extra, supporting local artists, farmers and manufacturers boost the economy in your local area. There is also a much lower carbon footprint to transport your goods from across town versus cross country.

During the holidays, check out local farmer's markets, crafts fairs, antique stores, or smaller retailers to find these local projects.


Food brings everyone together during the holidays but think back to all of the food you may have cleaned off plates and into the waste bin.

To limit food waste, plan out your menu ahead of time for the number of people you expect, accounting for a realistic and reasonable amount of leftovers.

Also consider buying from local and organic farmers or patronize a local winery or brewery for beverages.

This year for the holidays, SpeedWash Car Wash wants you to consider some of these recommendations for reducing your environmental footprint. We do it every day at the washes using reclaimed water and chemicals that are friendlier to the environment. Sustainability does not have to limit your festivities. With a few modifications, you can have a more worry-free, eco-friendly holiday season.