Talking Green: 8 ways to make your holidays more sustainable |

Talking Green: 8 ways to make your holidays more sustainable

Kate Brocato
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With all of the decorating, gift giving and feasting, the holidays can cause a big jump in your carbon footprint. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste alone generally increases by more than 25%.

However, it is easier than you think to keep your waste, energy consumption and carbon emissions in check this time of year. Here are Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s tips to reduce your impact this season.

Give an experience: Material items tend to create more waste and have a bigger environmental impact down the road. Consider giving gifts like a snowshoe excursion with Yampatika or a gift card to support one of our many local restaurants.

Wrap gifts in eco-friendly materials: Most shiny gift wrapping paper is not recyclable because it has high ink content and low paper content. Instead, wrap gifts with old maps, fabric remnants, colorful dish towels, reusable cloth bags, butcher paper or newspaper.

Decorate using natural materials: Decorating for the holidays is a fun way to bring holiday cheer into your home. However, many decorations are often made from materials that are not recyclable and may take hundreds of years to break down. Consider making your own decorations using natural materials, like garland made from dried oranges and cranberries or pine boughs cut from the bottom of your Christmas tree.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Reduce waste at celebratory meals: Ideally, serve on dishware that can be washed and reused. If you need to serve on single-use tableware, purchase recyclable or ones made from recycled materials. Reduce food waste by planning portions and eating or freezing any leftovers.

Recycle: Recycling is one of the easiest actions to take every single day — not just during the holidays — to conserve resources. The Yampa Valley Recycles app takes the guesswork out of recycling. Download the app for free at

Give the gift of sustainability: What could be a more meaningful gift than an investment in the future of our cherished landscapes and livelihoods? With the Sustainability Council’s new membership program, you can give the gift of a sustainable Yampa Valley to friends and loved ones. Members will receive sustainability-related benefits, like special edition riparian wildlife notecards printed by local artist Jill Bergman, a Jill Bergman-print tote bag, quarterly member communications with program updates and ways to get involved and access to YVSC Explores events. Visit for more information.

Switch to LED holiday lights: If you’re still using incandescent lights, recycle them when you take your holiday decorations down and invest in LED lights, which last up to 50 times longer and use up to 75% less energy than traditional lights. Old holiday lights can be recycled at Ace Hardware. There is no need to remove the bulbs.

Recycle your tree: Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. Recycle your tree — no wreaths — at the Howelsen Ice Arena at 285 Howelsen Parkway from Dec. 26 to Jan. 31. Please remove all lights, decorations and wire.

Kate Brocato is Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s communications and program director.


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