Skip to main content

Sustainable Holidays

Your guide for having a more sustainable winter and holiday season.

On this page, you will find:

sustainable season Preparing for Winter sustainable holidays Tips for Sustainable Holidays

sustainable season Preparing for Winter


  • Prepare your vehicle: Check your tire pressure. Cold air occupies less space than warm air, so when it gets colder, your tire pressure will go down. Keeping tires at their optimal tire pressure (as noted on the inside of the driver door) is one of the easiest ways to save fuel, especially in the winter. Tips for winter driving.
  • Utilize public transportation to avoid scraping ice off the windshield, paying for fuel, or dealing with the stress of traffic and bad weather. Plus, this winter you can ride for free! Learn more.
  • Walk or bike this winter and enjoy the outdoors, while reducing your carbon footprint and improving your health. Here are some tips for enjoying winter walking and biking:
    • Dress in layers. Here is a basic formula that can be tailored to the conditions:
      • Base layer. This will go next to your skin, so pick something that will wick moisture away from your skin. Avoid cotton. Wool or synthetic materials work well.
      • Warm layer. This is the soft and warm layer like a fleece jacket or warm sweater.
      • Protective layer. A wind/water proof layer will help keep you warm and dry.
    • Cover your head, hands and ears.
    • Wear shoes with good traction that have enough room to comfortably wear warm socks. Water/wind proof shoes will keep your feet warmer, especially in wet/windy weather.
    • Bring lights and wear bright colors and reflective gear if traveling in low-light conditions.
    • For walking:
      • Take shorter steps if there may be ice to keep your center of gravity over your feet.
      • For ice, add traction cleats. Most people like ones that fit over the bottom of your shoes. Make sure to take of the cleats before entering buildings.
    • For biking:
      • A wind/water resistant layer is very important. You may want wind resistant pants, gloves, shoe covers, and jacket.
      • Feet and hands can be difficult to keep warm. Warm roomy gloves and shoes that are also wind resistant will be best. If you prefer mittens, you may want to try lobster gloves. Warm wool or synthetic socks and waterproof shoes or shoe covers will help keep feet warm and dry.
      • Pro Tip: You want to feel a little cold at the beginning of your ride because you will warm up on your ride. If you are warm in the beginning, you will likely overheat and sweat during your ride, which will make it difficult to stay warm later on.
      • For slippery surfaces, slow is the way to go. Similar to driving, gently pump your brakes, change directions and speeds smoothly and slower than on a dry surface, and walk or find an alternate route if there are sections you are not comfortable riding.


Smart Heating

  • Maintain clear airflow. Before starting your heater, check and change the air filter.
    • Most air filters need to be replaced every 3-6 months, at least once a year. Learn more.
  • Save money, heat where you need it. Did you know? Space heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home.
    • Lower the thermostat, as low as is comfortable.
    • Consider a programmable thermostat to heat your house on demand.
    • Wear more layers, add another blanket, or enjoy a warm drink to keep you warm.
  • Take advantage of heat. If you plan to use the oven, prepare to bake multiple items at once to save energy while cooking.
  • Move warm air to you. Set your ceiling fan to slowly spin clockwise and gently blow the rising hot air down.

Keep Heat In and Cold Out

  • Let the sun in. Open window coverings in the morning to allow the sun to heat your home during the day.
    • Specifically windows in direct sunlight—south-facing windows, east facing windows in the morning, and west-facing windows in the afternoon.
  • Seal gaps and cracks. Use weather stripping around doors and windows to seal up any gaps.
    • Proper sealing can save more than 20% on heating and cooling bills.
  • Insulate.

Additional Ways to Save on Your Energy Bills

sustainable holidays Tips for Sustainable Holidays

Meals and Food

USDA's steps to prevent food waste, four easy steps

Other Resources

Gift Giving

  • Quality over quantity.
    • Gifts that are made to last will show your loved ones you care and save them money in the long run since they will not need to replace the item as often, or in some cases, at all.
  • Give a waste-reduction gift.
    • Reusable items can replace disposable ones, helping your friends and family reduce waste. Here are a few ideas:
      • Reusable straws,
      • Reusable take-out containers,
      • Wool dryer balls to replaces dryer sheets,
      • Refillable coffee/tea mug,
      • Reusable cutlery for the on-the-go person,
      • Reusable produce bags, or
      • Bars over bottles for hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, or conditioner.
    • For those interested in starting/expanding composting, give the gift of a countertop food waste collection bin or support a local composting-focused organization, such as the Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters that provide free local composting resources and classes.
    • Low-waste ideas:
      • E-gift card or reload an existing gift card,
      • Donate to their favorite charity, or
      • Include rechargeable batteries (and a charging station if they don’t have one) with toys that require batteries,
  • Give experiences that nurture relationships. Need ideas?
  • Consider re-gifting new or pre-loved items. This is an especially good gift for white elephant gift giving.
  • Repair a loved item for a friend or family member. If you do not have the tools or time, look for a local shop or crafts person.
  • Rethink wrapping paper.
    • Reuse boxes from your recent online orders.
    • Be creative and colorful with recyclable alternatives. Try using colorful pages torn from magazines or last year's calendar to wrap small gifts, and old maps or the Sunday comics for larger boxes. Not sure what alternatives are recyclable? Ask Recycle Coach.
    • Go without or turn part of the gift into the wrapping paper. A scarf makes a great gift and wrapping paper substitute.
  • Unwrapping: educate, divide and reduce.
    • Does everyone know what is recyclable? Check your family's knowledge by playing the Know What to Throw game, or ask Recycle Coach (on the web or download the app to your phone).
      • Remember, wishing it is recyclable does not make it so, and actually causes more harm than good. So, when it doubt, throw it out.
    • Where are the bins? show everyone the recycling and trash containers. If you compost, have a bin/bag on hand for those items too.
    • Double check recycling/compost items as you transfer them to the blue bin or compost pile. In all the excitement, there are likely to be some misplaced items.


  • Reduce.
    • Find creative ways to decorate with what you have. Try re-purposing other items or bring out some past favorites (photos, cards, ornaments).
    • Use energy efficient lighting over incandescent lights to save energy.
  • Avoid buying new items.
    • Build memories with a group decoration craft.
    • Look for like-new and lightly used decorations at your local thrift store or yard sales. You may find some great gift ideas as well.
  • Reuse.
    • Do the lights from last year still work? Great! Reuse them and reduce waste and your carbon footprint (versus buying new).
    • Store or donate artificial trees.
    • Try a live tree, and plan a place to plant it outdoors after the holidays.
    • Cloth napkins look great and are reusable.
  • Recycle/Compost.
    • If you mail holiday cards, use recycled paper and avoid adding glitter or other non-recyclable items.
    • Use something that can be recycled. String up holiday cards, use hand-cut paper snowflakes or Origami decorations to add to the decor. Pro tip: before recycling cards/decorations, remove anything that is not paper, including ribbons, foil-type paper, glitter, or rope handles.
    • Make a compostable decoration. Try a fragrant and compostable string of popcorn, dried apples or oranges, cinnamon sticks, and/or dried cranberries. Remember to avoid tape or glitter, since they are not recyclable.
    • Treecycling through the City is free! Turn your tree into free mulch and then take some home to protect your garden, potted plants, etc.

Do you have other eco-friendly ideas/tips? Tell us your sustainable holiday story by emailing us at [email protected].