Heal the Bay’s Sustainable Holiday Tips: PART ONE

Between all the shopping, shipping, baking, and making this Winter how can anyone keep their holidays green? Check out our THREE-PART Sustainable Holiday Tips just in time to keep you on the “NICE” list this December! 

From the Desk of Meredith McCarthy, Director of Campaigns & Outreach, Heal the Bay leader for over 20 years, and professional mom working hard to thrive during this busy holiday season.

From our beach cleanups to our policy work on single-use plastics, Heal the Bay is tackling the waste crisis. We are working to end the production and use of single-use plastics to reduce harmful impacts on people, wildlife, and ecosystems. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem – we must switch to reusable alternatives or those that are truly recyclable or compostable. With the holiday season upon us, there are numerous opportunities to help protect our local waters and watersheds by going green. 

PART ONE:  Is Sustainable Shipping a Holiday Myth?

If your gift-giving season is marked by a beaten path of Amazon deliveries to your front door, here are some things to keep in mind as you sneak down the alley to your neighbor
s recycle bin because yours is full: Recyclability of shipping materials depends on the specific materials used.  

What gets recycled?

Cardboard boxes & paper packages: Cardboard boxes are widely recyclable. Most recycling programs accept cardboard. Break them down before you put them in the recycle bin.  

Plastic:  Some types of plastic, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene), are commonly recyclable. Look for recycling symbols on plastic items. The number inside the chasing arrows needs to be a #1, 2, or 5 to be accepted by most municipal recycling programs. Plastic envelopes and bubble wrap made from LDPE (low-density polyethylene) may be technically recyclable, but most curbside pickups do not accept this type of plastic film. The economics of recycling are influenced by market demand for recycled materials. If there is limited demand for recycled LDPE, recycling facilities are less motivated to invest in the necessary infrastructure and technologies to process and recycle this type of plastic. The good news is that Heal the Bay Aquarium, through our partnership with Ridwell, will take plastic film, Amazon envelopes, and bubble wrap through January.   

Styrofoam (Polystyrene): Styrofoam is rarely accepted in standard curbside recycling programs.  

Mixed: If your paper package is lined with bubble wrap it won’t recycle. The municipal system is not designed to separate the plastic from the paper. 

Foam Packing Peanuts: Not recyclable – headed to the landfill. 

Biodegradable packing peanuts: Dissolvable in water.  

One Solution, Shop local!

We know you know that by shopping locally you can avoid all of this. Set a goal and try to purchase at least half of your shopping list from local vendors.  

If you are in LA, check out our Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide for ideas from the Heal the Bay Staff.


Or give gifts that help protect what you love (our coastal waters and watershed) when you shop at our Heal the Bay Online Store

No time to ship? You have the option to PICK UP YOUR ORDER AT OUR OFFICE IN SANTA MONICA or you can shop all your favorite Heal the Bay Gear at the Heal the Bay Aquarium Gift Shop and Heal the Bay Welcome Center on top of the Santa Monica Pier. 

Give the Gift of Experience

Heal the Bay has no-shipping-required options too!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.


Did you enjoy Part One of our series? Check out Part TWO on Gift Wrapping vs Recycling and Part THREE on Throwing a Party Sustainably