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Junk mail

Food waste



Plastic bags

Local recycling resources

Reducing Holiday Waste

Do you have any other ideas or tricks up your sleeve? Please email us and we’ll share them here!


Request to have your name/address removed from mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association. A token $1 fee removes your name/address for up to three years.

Use the Stop Junk Mail Kit at stopjunkmail.org.

To be removed from direct mail registries: register at DirectMail.com.

To discontinue unwanted catalogs: Remove yourself from specific catalogs at CatalogChoice.org or call unwanted catalogs directly to request removal.

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SF Environment’s tips for reducing food waste.

Fridge organizational trick from TakePart.org.

Buy foods in bulk and compost the leftovers! Consider buying food and holiday snacks in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Be sure to compost the leftovers—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates nearly 95 billion pounds of edible food, or 27 percent of the U.S. food supply, end up being wasted each year.

Buy local! Look for locally grown products for your holiday meal—it’s estimated the ingredients for the average U.S. meal travel 1,200 miles by the time they are served.

Choosing food products that are in season, and not flown in from a tropical climate, is better for the environment and the local community. Consider products from a local farmers’ market. Find a list of Certified California-Grown Farmers’ Markets online.

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Packing Peanuts: Styrofoam peanuts can be dropped off at many shipping/mail houses (UPS and Mail Boxes, etc.) for reuse. Call first to confirm their take-back policy.

Styrofoam: Larger, clean pieces of styrofoam can be dropped off for recycling at:

Gift Wrap: Save and reuse gift wrapping paper from previous years, or make some from butcher paper, reused brown paper bags, newspapers, old calendars and fabric. Shop for recycled-content holiday wrapping paper, or wrapping paper sold by charity groups that raise funds to preserve rainforests. Thrift shops often have good prices on leftover holiday wrapping paper, too.

Think Outside the Gift Box: Reuse already-gifted bags and boxes, make origami ones from newspapers and old calendars, paint product boxes…or give a package-less gift!

Or, forgo the physical gift altogether and donate to a charity in the gift recipient’s name. For example, each dollar sent to AmericanForests.org will pay to plant a tree in regions where they are needed most, and to support the group’s mission to protect and restore rural and urban forests.

Leave packaging feedback for each shipment you get through Amazon.

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Buy reusable / rechargeable batteries that can be used again and again.

Batteries contain toxic materials and should not be thrown into the trash. Visit Earth911.com to find an authorized recycling facility near you. You can also drop them off at a transfer station or other pickup locations (e.g. convenience stores in SF).

Consider buying items that don’t need batteries!

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“Did you remember your bags?” Take along reusable shopping bags to help reduce the number of single-use, disposable bags distributed by retailers. Here are some tips for remembering to bring in your reusable bags.

San Francisco CANNOT accept recyclables or compostable material in plastic bags. Plastic bags are a big problem for the equipment that processes this material. However, you can line your green and blue carts with newspaper, paper bags, or cardboard. There are special Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI)-certified bags available to line the composting cart and kitchen pail. Cole Hardware, Rainbow Grocery, Albertsons, Wal-Mart and dozens of other stores carry these BPI certified bags.

A neat and convenient alternative for kitchen waste collection is an empty paper milk carton. Just open the top, fill it with food, fold the top closed when full, and drop it into your green cart for collection.

SF Environment’s suggestions for recycling soft plastics and plastic bags.

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