Be eco-friendly: Save money and enjoy a richer holiday season
The lavishness we enjoy from Thanksgiving to News Year’s Day doesn’t have to boost food waste, packaging, wrapping paper and decorations, even though previous years show a 25 percent increase in household waste this time of year. If you’d like to keep your holidays just as festive while making them less wasteful, check out these tips and put your money where your values are.
- Give experiences, investments or donations rather than things. Think ski or park passes, event tickets, music lessons or cooking classes. Contribute to a child's savings account or education IRA or give a U.S. Savings Bond. Or donate in a friend's name to a favorite charity.
- Use reusable tableware when entertaining. It makes a gracious presentation and costs less over the long term than buying and tossing disposable tableware.
- Buy LED holiday lights. Light-emitting diode lights are more energy-efficient and will last longer.
- Recycle. Besides day-to-day recycling, be sure to make it easy for your party guests to recycle beverage cans and bottles. Visit www.minneapolismn.gov/solid-waste/ for Minneapolis recycling information. Recycle your tangled or broken holiday lights through the Recycling Association of Minnesota’s Recycle Your Holidays program www.recycleminnesota.org. Hennepin County accepts holiday lights and electrical cords year round for recycling at its drop-off facilities in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington.
- Wrap presents with the future in mind. Wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, so try wrapping presents in the comics or sports section of newspaper, old posters, old maps, sheet music, reusable shopping bags, scarves or dishtowels.
- Shop locally.
- The city’s grocery stores and natural food co-ops offer local meats, produce, and pre-made items.
- Local gift shops and online retailers offer art and other gifts produced by local artists and artisans.
- Eat unprocessed foods and keep your guest list in mind when planning quantities.
- Rethink your tree. Many of the city’s garden centers and other retailers offer Christmas trees that are grown locally or sustainably. The City of Minneapolis will pick up trees from City of Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling customers in January as part of the regular service. Or place your Christmas tree in your garden as a shelter for birds and wildlife in your backyard during the winter, and properly dispose of it with the yard waste in the spring. Or think about decorating a poinsettia, potted evergreen, bonsai or even a live tree that you can plant in your yard in the spring.
- See more tips and ideas from Hennepin County about how to enrich your holidays while saving money.
Published Nov. 21, 2011