In the thick of the holiday season, it can be easy to get caught up in all of the merry-making and forget to make environmentally conscious choices.  But there are a few easy things that you can do to up your sustainability game for the holidays, whether it’s reducing your waste, saving energy or supporting local businesses. The six tips below will get you on the road to a greener holiday in no time.

Tip 1: Recycle your holiday tree.

Once you’ve taken down your tree, don’t send it off to the landfill.  Recycle it at one of the Streets Department’s tree recycling drop-off locations throughout Philly on Saturday, January 11, 2020 or Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or at any one of the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  Remember to remove all lights and decorations from the tree before you recycle it.

Tip 2: Use newspaper or reuse wrapping paper.

And once you’ve unwrapped your treasures, remember to recycle your used paper.  Wrapping paper can be recycled in your curbside bin as long as it is free of tape, bows and other decorations.  Paper must also pass the “scrunch test”: simple wrapping paper can be crumpled easily and recycled; stiffer paper that is coated in foil, glitter or other non-paper-based decorations cannot be recycled and should go in the trash.

For more tips on how to reduce gift-giving waste, check out this great post from CleanPHL on how to reduce waste at the holidays.

Tip 3: Send recycled cards or e-cards.

If you’re sending paper holiday cards, look for ones that are made with recycled content and/or are certified to have come from sustainably managed forests.

Tip 4: Use LED holiday lights & recycle old lights.

Look for low energy-consuming LED lights when purchasing new strings, and recycle your old lights at one of the City’s drop-off locations. Lights will be collected for recycling through January 31st. For questions about holiday light pick-up and drop-off, call 215-683-5554 or 215-686-3900.

Public drop-off location: 
In front of the security desk in the main lobby of the Municipal Services Building located at 1401 John F Kennedy Blvd.

City employee drop-off locations:
Energy Office – One Parkway Building, Room 18-024
Sustainability Office – One Parkway Building, 13th Floor

Holiday Pro Tip: Use timers with your lights to ensure they’re not using extra energy by only being on when you want them to be.

Tip 5: Shop local to reduce packaging waste.

Shopping at local retailers reduces the amount of packaging used to ship goods to your door, and it has the added benefit of keeping more money in the local economy!  But if you must order online, remember to recycle your (broken down and flattened) cardboard boxes in your curbside recycling bin.

Tip 6: Bring local food to holiday gatherings.

Sourcing food locally supports our local economy and helps reduce carbon emissions associated with transporting food over large distances to get to you. Check out the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council’s Good Food Caterer Guide or find a business in your community!