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Have A Happy Low-Waste Holiday 
Christmas lights

It’s the holiday season, Knoxville, and the City’s Waste and Resources Management office is here to help by suggesting sustainable gifts, dazzling holiday decorations, and waste reduction tips.

We’ll also review what you can and can’t recycle in your curbside cart and how to avoid food waste!

Sustainable Gifts

The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend between $755.3 and $766.7 billion dollars on the holidays this November and December, which will be about a 4-percent increase from last year. In light of the pandemic, we know that City residents are doing more of that shopping online this year. 

When ordering online, try to select a low-waste packaging option. This means that the merchandise has little to no packaging and is often packaged in easy-to-recycle material, such as cardboard or paper.

You can select a low-waste packaging option on Amazon. However, Package Free Shop and EarthHero are great Amazon alternatives if you are trying to support companies that replenish the resources they use. Both websites offer kitchen, wellness, and other home goods that would make perfect gifts! 

ThredUP, the world’s largest online thrift store, is another great alternative if you want to gift clothes, shoes, or accessories.

If you are looking for handmade or vintage items, clothing, or goods, then you should check out Etsy. Buying from Etsy allows you to support small businesses all over the world.

Or--even better--shop local! Due to COVID-19, small businesses in Knoxville need all the support they can get. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Rala: Curated goods from regional and local artisans.
2. Whimsy & A Dream: Art, vintage clothes and goods, zero waste beauty, and more.
3. Knoxville Soap, Candle & Gifts: Soap wrapped in low-waste packaging.
4. Stanley’s Greenhouse: Buy your friends and family some plants! Stanley’s has the most beautiful poinsettias this time of year.
5. Magpies: Delicious cakes, pies, and holiday cookies.
6. Three Rivers Market: They stock local, organic foods and wellness items.

If you don’t want to shop inside, most of these businesses will ship to you. Check out The Maker City Holiday Gift Guide for further local gift inspiration. 

Another easy way to avoid unnecessary waste is to try to buy gifts that your friends and family members definitely need or want. No one wants gifts that will clutter their homes unnecessarily.

Or you could avoid buying physical gifts altogether and offer experiences instead. Tickets to a future concert or movie, a yoga pass, a museum membership, a cooking class, etc. will be much appreciated once events are held in person again. 

As for sustainable gift wrapping, try to use-up any wrapping paper you already have and reuse old gift bags. Trash is For Tossers’ blog post offers some adorable gift wrapping ideas!

DIY wrapping

Ho, Ho, Ho Holiday Decorations

Here are 3 ways to avoid buying big-box store holiday decorations:

1. Reuse holiday decorations you already have. For instance, Pinterest has tons of ideas for revamping old Christmas ornaments!

2. Make your own decorations out of things you already have around the house. Make snowflakes out of scrap paper and wreaths from branches in your backyard.

3. Buy holiday decorations from thrift shops, which display tons of Christmas decorations this time of year!

If you are tired of your old decorations, make sure to donate them to Goodwill, KARM, the Salvation Army, or any other local thrift stores. Check out the Specialty and Recycling Donations Guide for more information.

Curbside Recycling & Garbage Guide

There will be no household garbage or recycling collection on Christmas, Friday, December 25. All Friday routes will be picked up on Saturday. However, Waste Connections will pick up garbage and recycling on New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1. 

So remember: when in doubt, set it out! Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two holidays of the year when trash and recycling are not picked up as scheduled. 

Not all holiday items are able to be recycled in your curbside cart. Save or screenshot the info graphics below to help you remember! 


not accepted

Important to remember:

Glass is ONLY accepted for recycling at the City's five Recycling Centers
You can find out where to recycle your Christmas tree and lights here.

Not-So Festive Food Waste

Do you and your family always have excess leftover holiday food that is thrown away? 

1. Try freezing leftovers; this can help make food last for months. Imagine: you could be eating green bean casserole in March. Frosty the Snowman would definitely approve! 

2. Plan your holiday meals ahead of time. This will help you determine portion sizes and save time and money, all while cutting out food waste. Check out Hubbub’s tips for a sustainable Christmas Dinner.

3. If you’re ordering takeout for your holiday meal, consider telling the host/hostess that you’re dining at home and don’t need plastic ware. Unfortunately, plastic utensils, plastic bags, and Styrofoam containers are not recyclable and must be thrown in the trash.

4. Compost any unwanted food! Read our blog post on the benefits of composting.

The City of Knoxville’s Waste and Resources Management office hopes that these low-waste tips and tricks will help you have a very merry holiday season! 

Please email wramericorps@knoxvilletn.gov with any questions regarding this blog post.
Posted by ptravis On 15 December, 2020 at 12:27 PM