Make your Holidays a Little Greener to Save Flamingos!

Planning on getting together with family and friends this holiday season to exchange gifts?  Your gift may have a bigger impact than expected. Many products today contain resources harvested from nature. For example, that cellphone in your pocket.

 Most of us probably couldn’t imagine living without our cellphone. Technology advances so quickly that it sometimes seems like we need to purchase new phones every year in order to keep up with the newest trends. Before you purchase that new phone (for yourself or someone on your gift list), consider whether your current phone still provides all of the features you need. Materials such as lithium (found in the batteries that cellphones and tablets use) are often mined from salt flats high up in the Andes Mountains. These salt flats are important for another reason: they provide important breeding and nesting grounds for several flamingo species, including the Chilean flamingo, the species that can be found at Reid Park Zoo. 

Using your current phone just a bit longer and recycling an old phone that you can no longer use (instead of tossing it in the trash) reduces the need to mine for new resources. By being a thoughtful consumer, you can help protect habitats that many animals rely on.

Once you find that perfect gift, you need to wrap it and tie it in a bow, of course! Did you know, however, that gift wrap, ribbons, and bows cannot be recycled? Instead of using gift wrap, consider using butcher paper to wrap that perfect gift. You can even decorate the paper for a personal touch. Still missing a bow? How about using cotton twine, or if you prefer colorful ribbon, save ribbon to be reused time after time. If every family saved just 2 feet of ribbon over the holidays, we would save 38,000 miles of ribbon from the landfill (enough to tie a bow around the entire planet)! 

25% more waste is generated during the holidays than any other time of year. Don’t be a statistic! Here are other ways to cut down on waste during the holiday season:

  • Instead of throwing away that string of lights with the burnt-out bulbs, recycle them at a special facility that will separate out the glass, copper, and plastic to be reused. One company in Tucson does just that: Recyco, Inc. Learn more at
  • Give the real tree you used this holiday season a second life. It can be recycled through the City of Tucson Treecycle program. Once you have removed all decorations, drop it off to be turned into mulch. Learn more and find drop-off locations at
  • If you are planning to host a holiday party, skip the single-use dishware. Even paper plates cannot be recycled with food residue. Instead, use reusable dishes and cutlery. You can even ask your guests to bring their own reusable Tupperware for leftovers.


Other Resources:

City of Tucson website:

Tucson Clean and Beautiful Recycling Directory:

101 Ways to Reduce Waste:

Follow the Tucson Environmental Services Facebook Page @TucsonEnvironmentalServices