Putting the ‘green’ in the holiday season

What do fish sing during the holidays? Christmas corals! Have you resolved to be more eco-conscious this holiday season? Transition San Juan Island and Plastic Free Salish Sea can help! Check out the ideas below to reduce waste and lighten your carbon footprint in some of the major holiday categories.


This time of year is often focused on gift-giving. Why not emphasize experiences with gift certificates? Or helping others with a charitable donation? If you must buy gifts, shop local and cut down on shipping and packaging. And when you’re done shopping at our local shops, make sure you dispose of your mask in the garbage so it doesn’t end up as litter, or even better, wear a reusable one. There are lots of fun options from local nonprofits like The Whale Museum or the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.


Feeling tired of your usual holiday décor? Rather than buying new, organize a swap with friends and refresh your look! In a contactless way, of course. Or get some clear glass containers from the thrift store and fill them with fruits like citrus, grapes, and pomegranates. Adds some color to your table and makes for great snacking later.


COVID-19 might be making us alter our plans this year, but one thing that doesn’t need to change: the food. We all have those traditional holiday recipes to make the season bright. Support island farmers and makers and get your ingredients from the San Juan Islands Food Hub. Don’t feel like cooking this year? Get takeout from your favorite local restaurant.

Mail and Packages

The holidays usually mean lots of catalogs in the mailbox. Go to www.catalogchoice.org to decide which ones you actually want. Instead of wrapping paper, why not use gift bags that can be used over and over again? Make your own from old sheets or T-shirts (YouTube’s a great resource if you’re not sure where to begin), or search ‘reusable gift bags’ on Etsy. Receiving wrapped gifts and don’t want to throw out the paper? Look at YouTube or other internet ideas for what to do with used wrapping paper. Found the perfect gift on Amazon but not sure what to do with the packaging? The bubble mailers and cardboard boxes can be easily reused, and most have a How2Recycle label with more details. For a full list of what to do with the different materials, check out these tips.

Recycle Christmas Trees

Look for local options to recycle your real Christmas tree by composting or chipping. For example, single-family homes within the Town of Friday Harbor limits can have their undecorated tree picked up free of charge on Jan. 8.

Recycle Old Batteries

Got old batteries sitting around from toys or holiday decorations? Keep them out of the landfill! Ace Hardware in Friday Harbor recycles all batteries free of charge.

On behalf of the Transition San Juan Island and Plastic Free Salish Sea – have a happy, safe, and sustainable holiday season!

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