Green Holidays in Minnesota!

Green Holidays in Minnesota:
Tips for an environmentally friendly holiday season.

There’s more to a green holiday season than recycling alone, here are some ideas to get you started. “There’s an increase of 25% more trash during the holiday season and we should all consider reducing waste during the holidays,” stated Ellen Telander, Executive Director of the Recycling Association of Minnesota. Here are a number of suggestions to get you thinking green this holiday season.

-Recycle beverage containers. Close the recycling loop and support Minnesota’s economy in the process by buying recycled content containers and then recycling them after use. For specific information about what your local recycling program collects, go to:

-Purchase recycled content wrapping paper or put gifts in reusable gift bags. Better yet give gifts that don’t have to be wrapped at all like tickets to concerts, museums, sporting events, or other types of passes you can use to make memories with the recipient. Recycled content paper can be found at most large retail stores. It will say it is made with a percentage of recycled content on the packaging.

-Turn down the heat before your guests arrive. Ever notice how it gets hotter in your home when there are several more people around? By turning down the thermostat you are saving energy and you’ll all feel more comfortable.

-Walk to neighborhood parties or carpool with friends if you are traveling a further distance.

-Rent formal attire for events. You will save space in your closet afterwards. Also consider purchasing seldom worn clothing from a consignment store. A great example of reuse is tailoring that old bridesmaid dress to make a new (and cuter) one. Rented formal attire gets ‘recycled’ countless times and is friendlier to your bottom line instead of purchasing expensive new formal wear you may not use very often.

-Don’t throw away leftovers; put them in reusable containers for guests to take home with them.

-Plan meals for the amount of people you expect and practice portion control. It will minimize waste, as well as minimize the extra pounds people put on during the holidays. For example, the FDA recommended serving size for a protein serving is relatively equal to that of a deck of cards. For more information about serving sizes go to

-Stay home for the holidays. You will save time, money, energy, and you can check out local attractions with your guests you have always wanted to see.

-Use outdoor lights with separate circuitry. According to, if one bulb goes out the rest will keep shining. Also smaller or LED bulbs use less electricity. This translates to energy savings and decreased risk of fire hazards because the bulbs do not become as hot as larger ones. These outdoor lights can be found at Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and many other retail stores throughout Minnesota.

-Use a reusable or digital camera instead of a disposable camera. Still have that 35mm camera around the house or have you gone high tech and gotten a digital one? By using reusable cameras, holiday waste is reduced. Instead of printing them off to share with family and friends, go to to load and store them for free.

-E-commerce is a great way to avoid having to drive to crowded malls and will save you time and gas. Some greener shopping sites that ship using less packaging include:;; and Another advantage of ecommerce is you do not need to receive a lot of catalogues in the mail to get your shopping done from home.

-BYOB. If you do venture out to shop-“bring your own bags.” Many grocery stores are now offering their own personalized reusable bags you can purchase at low cost. For example, Byerly’s in the metro area has customized reusable bags for purchase. They are lightweight, sturdy and sell for less than two dollars a piece.

-Get creative with gifts.
• Shop at flea markets, antique stores or estate sales.
• Make something yourself
• Give a gift card
• Make a charitable donation in the recipient’s name
• Give kids a savings bond or stock
• Give gifts which encourage others to use less. For example a wrap-n-mat is a reusable sandwich bag that acts as a placemat when you open it up. To purchase, go to
• For inexpensive gift cards go to

-Send an E-card. Now it’s easier than ever to personalize season’s greetings cards to your loved ones and colleagues. Another option a fellow Minnesotan has been doing is emailing their Christmas letter with a digital family photo in the document. Again you will save time, money, and you be leading the green charge. Did you know…the 2.65 billion cards sold each year in the US could fill a football field 10 stories high? Some great sites to check out to send free e-cards is and

-Paring down holiday mailing lists will save you money, time, reduce waste and mail volume. Instead of throwing away cards you’ve received from years past, turn them into gift tags or table decorations like placemats. Just press them between two sheets of contact paper for a personalized and meaningful table decoration. They can also be laminated at Office Max, Office Depot, Fedex or Kinkos throughout Minnesota.

-Recycle packaging. Drop off extra packing peanuts at local private mailing centers. Call the Plastic Loosefill Council’s Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 for the names of local businesses that reuse them. You can also find information from them about stores that offer discounts for returning packaging materials like cartons and boxes.

-Recycle your tree into mulch or compost it. You can put the mulch in planting beds in the spring or in pot gardens to stop weeds from growing. There are also compost drop off sites throughout the state, check with your county solid waste administrator for where to mulch or compost your Christmas tree. To find out if you can compost in your area go to: and click on your county from the drop down list.