Waste-free holidays

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Waste-free holidays home

Green giving ideas


Follow these great tips to cut the waste - but not the holiday spirit!

Give great gifts with less waste

As the holidays approach, consider a creative, low-stress and waste-free approach to gift giving.

Give the gift of experience

  • Plan a day trip to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge or bike the Yelm-Tenino or Chehalis-Western trail. Pack a picnic lunch to add to the fun.
  • Take a walk on the wild side. Visit the rescued animals at Wolf Haven in Tenino or head to Northwest Trek, Olympic Game Farm, or Point Defi ance Zoo & Aquarium.
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  • Spend an evening at the theater. Harlequin Productions and the Washington Center for Performing Arts in Downtown Olympia are just two local opportunities to watch live performances.
  • Give tickets to a sporting event or treat someone to a day at a museum.
  • Buy lessons for a new sport or hobby like rock climbing, kayaking, or painting.
  • Give the gift of your time, Babysitting, household chores, or skill sharing can be thoughtful and much appreciated gifts for busy people.

Visit the City of Olympia's website to create your own personalized gift certificates!

Donate to a worthy cause

  • Donate locally to an organization such as the Thurston County Food Bank.
  • Help a family in need by donating to an international relief organization. For example, Heifer International uses your donation to purchase a farm animal, seeds, or clean water for people in developing countries.
  • “Adopt” an endangered animal from an organization like The World Wildlife Fund. The symbolic adoption helps support the effort to protect wild animals and habitat.

Go homemade

  • Put homemade cookies and treats in reusable tins or plates. Bake a cake or pie and include the pan as a gift.
  • Create a cookbook with favorite recipes. Prepare a sampling of treats to go along with it.
  • Make soaps, candles, framed photos, ornaments, or other crafts.
  • Give coupons for a service you can do, such as a home repair or washing a car.

Choose recycled or reusable gifts

  • Re-gift something meaningful that you no longer use, such as a well-loved book.
  • Shop at thrift stores or estate sales for that hidden treasure of jewelry, books, or dress-up clothes for kids.
  • Give a travel mug, durable water bottle, new lunchbox, or cloth produce and sandwich bags.

If you do plan to buy new gifts . . .

  • Choose items with recycled content and less packaging. Online retailer Amazon offers a variety of gifts shipped with their "Frustration-Free Packaging" option.
  • Pick durable, well-made items that won’t be headed for the landfi ll in a month’s time.
  • Choose items that get used up or eaten, such as specialty foods or artisan candles and soaps.
  • Give practical items, such as seeds for a gardener or fabric and thread for the sewing enthusiast.
  • Buy gifts from local artisans to cut down on the carbon footprint of the item.

Find creative ways to wrap gifts 

  • Place gifts inside reusable containers like cookie tins, flower pots, or baskets.
  • Use old maps to wrap packages.
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  • Give a “treasure map” to find an unwrapped gift hidden elsewhere in the house.
  • Wrap gifts in your children’s or your own artwork.
  • Look through old magazines, catalogs and calendars to use attractive photos.
  • Wrap gifts in cloth napkins or kitchen towels.
  • Use re-useable or re-used gift bags.
  • Replace ribbons and bows with evergreens, berries, dried flowers. Keep them as decorations or compost them after the gifts are unwrapped.




Contact us

Call (360) 867-2491 or e-mail ThurstonSolidWaste@co.thurston.wa.us.


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