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Holiday Waste Reduction

Overcoming the Amazon Effect

Shopping online has become a permanent part of our culture to the degree that some people no longer ever set foot in an actual store.  The cost of convenience and the thrill of opening packages delivered to your doorstep have created a monster of packaging materials. It’s a problem called the Amazon Effect, though all online retailers and convenience services contribute.

Amazon shipped literally billions of items worldwide last year.  Using data from USPS, FedEx and UPS, LimeLoop estimates that 165 billion packages are shipped in the U.S. each year. Roughly calculated, the cardboard used equate to more than 1 billion trees (not accounting that some packaging is not made from paper or cardboard). The impacts are enormous, and will continue to grow if we let it.

How can you help?


Patronize your local retailers to keep your sales tax local, support local jobs and ensure a fun, vibrant community.

Plus, you get the instant gratification of picking out the right color, fragrance, size or texture so you know it’s just right. Think of the time you’ll save from doing returns.


Enjoy all the convenience of shopping in your pajamas without the packaging or wait. 


When sending your homemade holiday cookie collection cross-country to relatives, reuse boxes and filler to be sure your goods arrive Pinterest-perfect.


Around the end of every month you are likely to see a request for free boxes on Craigslist or NextDoor popular time for moving in on the 1st.

Some shipping stores will take back packing peanuts that are clean and bagged.


Check What Goes Where Monterey County’s free recycling app to find out what you can recycle, and where it goes.

  • Cardboard – Recycle curbside, right inside your recycling cart. Check with your curbside collection service to see about recycling extra cardboard.Recycle cardboard free at your local recycling center, including all three Salinas Valley Recycles locations.
  • Plastic – Pop big bubble packs and tie up other plastic film to recycle at your local grocery store.


To further reduce waste, give gifts that require little packaging and deliver loads of memories like concert tickets, travel, movies, adventures and gift certificates.  Get more ideas at


Keep your holidays bright and waste creation low for a better new year, and a future without landfills.