‘Tis the season. And the most wonderful time of the year can get a little hectic when you are getting ready for parties, cooking, baking, shopping and wrapping gifts. All this added activity also adds to our waste — an additional 1 million tons from Thanksgiving to New Year's day.
That’s a lot of garbage. This year, green up your holidays with a low-waste diet.
This year, why not try giving time, not stuff.
- Give a gift certificate of your time — cooking, babysitting, yard work, or shoveling.
- Give an experience — tickets to an event, a dinner and movie, or a class to learn a new hobby.
- Volunteer and donate. Giving your time and/or money to worthy causes not only helps your community but gives you a sense of contribution and involvement that is hard to quantify.
Most wrapping paper is not recyclable. All the stuff that makes the gift wrap pretty (tissue paper, glitter, foil and metallic papers) is not suited for paper recycling.
- Reuse wrapping paper and bows from last year’s gifts.
- Wrap gifts in newspaper, paper bags, or old posters that can be recycled.
- Let the wrapping be part of the gift. Try wrapping the gift in a scarf, cloth bag, reusable tin, or jar.
Deck the halls
Whatever your decorating style, there’s nothing like festive decorations to cheer up any home during the winter season.
- Why buy new when thrift will do? Check out second-hand stores to find holiday decorations, while being friendly to the earth and your pocket book.
- Use Energy Star LED lights. You’ll save energy and money. LED lights are significantly more efficient than incandescent ones.
- Are your old lights a tangled mess of wires with missing or broken bulbs? You can recycle your old lights at one of several drop-off locations.
- Shop local. Buy real plants, trees, and wreaths from a Minnesota grower.
- Recycle or compost your tree after your done celebrating. Learn how from RethinkRecycling.
Plan a green gala
Don’t let good food go to waste. With a little planning, you can host a low-waste festivity that’s kind to your wallet and the environment.
- If you’re hosting a potluck, ask your guests to sign up for a category of food. By organizing the potluck, you’ll be sure there is the right balance of food, and not too many desserts or leftovers. Plan the perfect potluck using this online tool.
- Make a shopping list. It helps reduce impulse purchases, and you’ll spend less time having to go back to the grocery store later.
- Bring (and use) your own reusable shopping bag.
- Buy local. Search for local wineries and farmers from Minnesota Grown. Find local breweries on mnbeer.com.
- Send e-cards instead of paper invitations. Ask for an e-receipt when shopping.
- Spice up the party with reusable cloth napkins, silverware, glasses and plates.
- Put a clearly marked recycling bin next to your trash for cans and bottles.
- If you have more food than you can handle, pack it up and give it away or use it up. The Love Food Hate Waste website provides recipes that use small amounts of common ingredients.