’Tis the Season to be Greener

Suggestions for Green Holidays from the Sustainability Committee

This Holiday Season, be eco-conscious. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Below are some suggestions – you can find more at Use Less Stuff. Americans toss 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year than any other time of the year.


  • Consider gifts that support our local community and generate minimal waste: Give a gift of membership to the Park Slope Civic Council. Give a gift certificate to one of Park Slope’s wonderful restaurants or shops. Give a membership or a contribution in a friend or loved one’s name to Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music or Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Plant a tree in Prospect Park.
  • Do it yourself and save processing, packaging and transportation: Consider knitting, crocheting or baking gifts. Teach a skill, offer a service like babysitting or washing a car or take a friend to an event at the Old Stone House.
  • Buy local and patronize our fine Park Slope shops. Look for gifts that are durable, energy efficient and with minimal packaging; avoid disposable products. Choose gifts that require rechargeable batteries. Avoid gifts made from endangered tropical woods like teak, rosewood or mahogany.
  • Shop green: Go shopping with a reusable cloth shopping bag.
  • Regift! 35% of Americans have an unused Holiday present in their closets. There’s no shame in passing along a gift better suited for someone else.
  • Unwanted Holiday catalogs: Go to Catalog Choice to opt out of unwanted Holiday catalogs, or unwanted catalogs at any season.

Gift Wrap and Cards

  • Cards: Consider e-cards or make a phone call to send Holiday greetings. About 2.65 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States – enough to fill a football stadium 10 stories high. Re-use last year’s greeting cards by cutting off the message section, punching a hole in the front, and using as gift tags.
  • Wrapping paper alternatives: Get creative using old maps, kids’ drawings, outdated subway maps, blueprints, sheet music, posters, scarves or leftover fabric, magazine pages and comics pages. Give gifts in baskets or double your gift by “wrapping” it in a reusable bag.
  • If you do buy gift wrap, make sure it’s made from recycled paper.
  • Reuse old boxes and packaging materials. Decorate boxes with a collage of old wrapping paper.
  • Festive packing filler: Instead of tossing used gift wrap, run it through a paper shredder and use the fluffy result as packing filler.
  • Ribbon isn’t recyclable – choose natural rafia, yarn, twine, or even pine boughs to decorate your gifts.

Holiday Trees

  • Trees: Purchase a fresh-cut tree. Artificial trees will be thrown away eventually, and they will remain in the garbage dump forever.
  • Lights: Use long-lasting LED lights on your Holiday tree.
  • Ornaments: Recycle old jewelry, small toys, greeting cards, cookie cutters, dried flowers and ribbon as tree decorations. String popcorn, cranberries, pretzels, buttons or pinecones.  Ornaments of wood, metal or cloth will last longer than ornaments of plastic or glass.

Holiday Parties

  • Tabletop: Rent or borrow glassware, plate ware and flatware rather than using the throw-away kind. Consider recyclable flatware if you must buy the disposable kind.
  • Food: Patronize our wonderful farmers’ markets at Grand Army Plaza, Bartel-Pritchard Circle and JJ Byrne Playground. Food grown locally means less energy has gone into processing, packaging and transporting food to your table.
  • Serve small portions at Holiday meals.  Food that remains on the platter or in the serving dish becomes tomorrow’s leftovers, soup or sandwich; food that remains on the plate is recyclable garbage.

Keep Warm

  • Open your curtains and let sunlight in during the day to make use of this free heat.  When it gets dark, shut your curtains, and they will act as a layer of insulation and retain warmth in your home.
  • It might feel great to have your favorite chair in front of the radiator, but it is absorbing heat that could be warming your home.  Move the chair away from the radiator, and hot air will circulate more freely.
  • Bare floors can be frigid in winter.  Buy area rugs or warm slippers.

After the Holidays

  • Save ribbon in a reusable bag for birthday and holiday gifts.
  • Compost holiday meal leftovers and tissue paper in your brown composting bin. Or, take them to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket’s GrowNYC Compost Collection site, Saturdays, 8 am to 3:30 pm.
  • Protect your tree pit or garden with home-made mulch by laying branches of your holiday tree over the soil. This will help prevent winter erosion and soil compaction.
  • Donate packing peanuts to UPS or a local mail center.
  • Recycle your branches and trees at Mulchfest, co-sponsored by the Prospect Park Alliance and the Park Slope Civic Council, on Saturday, January 7 or Sunday, January 8, 10am – 2pm, at the Third Street entrance to Prospect Park or the Park Circle entrance at Prospect Park Southwest and Parkside Avenue. You will receive a free bag of mulch for your garden.

The Park Slope Civic Council wishes you the happiest of Holidays!