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The 12 Days of Sustainability

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

by: Abigail Shea

1. Make your own decorations

Colorado’s abundant nature provides us with several options for DIY ornaments and decorations. Pine cones, flowers, twigs, berries, etc. can all be arranged into beautiful holiday decorations. If you are experiencing crafter's block, browse Pinterest for inspiration.

2. Decorate a house plant or wall instead of buying a tree

To cut costs and save resources, why not jazz up something that you already own? Add string lights and homemade ornaments to your indoor greenery or fashion your decorative supplies into a festive wall design.

3. Carpool with a friend or take the bus when out holiday shopping

Heading to a holiday gift market or the nearest mall? Coordinate shopping plans with friends and family to help cut down on the amount of vehicles on the road. Consider checking which RTD buses are heading to your destination or if there are any nearby bike paths.

4. Consider giving a gift that is environmentally friendly

Shop local! Goods that are sourced locally travel fewer miles which creates fewer carbon emissions. Some other ideas for greener gifts include thrifting or purchasing items that are made with recycled material!

5. Make your own gifts

Get creative in the kitchen with edible gifts such as baked goods, nut mixes, jams/jellies, or a jar of loose tea. If cooking is not your forte, get crafty and knit or crochet a winter accessory, paint a picture, or create your own jewelry.

6. Gift an experience over an item

Instead of purchasing material items consider buying your loved ones tickets to an event or treating them to a relaxing experience. Some examples include: concert tickets, cooking classes, a massage appointment, or plan an adventure to the mountains! Check out or the “experiences” section of for more ideas.

7. Use gift bags/baskets over wrapping paper

Most wrapping paper is single-use and gift bags, baskets, boxes, and bows can be reused for years. Pro tip: give gifts in reusable shopping bags. It will cut down on holiday waste and the recipient gets two gifts in one!

8. Wrap gifts with discarded paper

Cleaning out your backpack at the end of the semester? Old assignments and handouts make for great wrapping paper! Newspapers, maps, posters, old calendars etc. are also excellent for wrapping. If you do purchase wrapping paper, avoid buying any that is metallic or plastic because it cannot be recycled.

9. Recycle your old holiday lights

Perhaps you have string lights that no longer turn on or you’ve decided to replace your current holiday lights with the energy-saving LED version. Our e-waste recycling station on the second floor of the Tivoli (in front of the bookstore) welcomes all holiday lights needed to be disposed! If you cannot make it to campus during the holidays, check for local organizations near your home that collect holiday lights. You can also take old lights to your nearest hardware store such as Lowes or Home Depot.

10. Unplug holiday lights before leaving home

Turning off holiday lights when leaving a room or before you leave home helps save on energy costs and burns less fossil fuels. Set your holiday lights on a timer or plug them all into a single power strip to make shutting of lights a breeze.

11. Bring a reusable container to holiday feasts

To save treats for later and reduce food waste! If you forget your container, use aluminum foil versus plastic wrap to save leftovers. Aluminum can continuously be recycled. Plastic wrap is single-use and will be sent to the landfill.

12. Donate leftover food to local food banks.

If you didn’t end up using all of your non-perishable items, donate them to a local food bank or to the food pantries here on campus. Donating helps reduce holiday food waste and makes the holidays brighter for someone in need. is a great source for finding the food bank closest to you!



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