University of California, Riverside


Sustainable Holidays

Winter Holiday Greenings

The holidays may be an opportunity to be relax with family and friends, but please don't be lax about sustainability.


Wrapping paper is recyclable in Riverside, but bow, ribbons and foil paper are not. Please use an alternative such as fiber raffia and decorate with edible fruit instead of a bow.

Purchase wrapping paper that has post-consumer content if possible or take a creative approach using old maps, packing paper or cloth napkins that can be reused by the recipient.

  • Choose gifts that do not require wrapping, or use socks or shirts as temporary wrapping.
  • Do something for someone instead of giving some thing.
  • Choose gifts that are not made from petroleum products.
  • Buy energy efficient or wind-up gifts and include rechargeable batteries with them.
  • Buy a digital subscription to a favorite magazine instead of the print version.
  • Buy something made locally.
  • Give seeds, plants or planters for an edible garden.


LED Lights: 

Replace your conventional lights with Light Emitting Diodes. They use up a fraction of the energy compared to your regular lights.

  • LED lights are very durable, and will last you a long time.
  • Turn off lights during the day. This will save you energy and keep your lights lasting longer.




Use soy or bees wax candles for the kinara, menorah or advent wreath, as they are biodegradable or can be reshaped into new candles afterwards. Paraphin candles are made from petroleum and emit air pollutants when burning.

Decorate your tree with recycled newspaper, ornaments made from hand or recycled containers, or string edible food that you consume and replace daily.

It takes 7 to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree, whose useful product life is about one month. Christmas trees are usually grown on tree farms that use large amounts of pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers. These toxic chemicals pollute the land and waterways and can poison wildlife. At the end of the Christmas season, the cut tree is disposed of either in the landfill or through a yard waste program.

An artificial tree does not necessarily offer a more sustainable option. They are usually made form petroleum products and shipped from overseas. They are not recyclable. They are carbon positive – they emit more carbon than they reduce.

Instead – opt for a living tree that can be planted afterwards. It is even possible to rent a Christmas tree.


Use local produce (250 miles or closer), organic or naturally grown. Use in season foods. Decorate tables and plates edible garnishes and center pieces. The average US meal has traveled more than 1200 miles to get to your table. Plan for reuse and storage when preparing your meals.


Buy local beverages that were produced using Natural or Organic growing processes.

Use local produce for your mixes, no powders or imported fruits. Freeze mint and juices as ice cubes.

Recycle your bottles, use washable/reusable containers and compost left over fruit and vegetables.

Use reusable or washable classes whenever possible. If disposable is the only option go for recyclable and/or compostable. These are much easier to find now than most people realize.

Clean-up: Use biodegradable soaps for dishes and surface cleaning. Use leftover citrus fruit decorations as ingredients for homemade cleaners.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Sustainability
University Village
1223 University Avenue, Suite 200P

Tel: (951) 827-1270
Fax: (951) 827-3890

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