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The NextStep website and the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN) are winding down and will no longer function after June 30, 2015. Until then, the website will be accessible, but existing web site content will not be updated nor will new resources or other new content be added to the site. Learn more.
Sustainable Holiday Ideas
||waste reduction, reducing waste
There is a wide range of opportunities to reduce waste during the holiday season.
Looking for ways to reduce your ecological footprint during the holiday season? Consider these options.
Shopping and Gift Giving:
* If shopping, take public transportation, combine trips, and/or "carpool" with friends or relatives.
* Choose gifts that support local economies (such as gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, or locally-made goods).
* Choose gifts with minimal packaging
* To reduce the number of bags that are brought home, use your own, preferably reuseable shopping bags.
* Consider giving less "stuff"--museum memberships, lessons or classes, donations to charities in the gift-recipient's name, and theater or event tickets are examples of no-waste alternatives.
* Give a recycled or "gently used" gift, or a homemade gift such as food. Book- and/or white-elephant exchanges can also be fun.
* If ordering gifts online, request that items be shipped together so as to reduce shipping and transportation impacts
* Instead of traditional holiday paper, use kids' artwork, newspaper, reuseable cloth gift bags,or old maps.
* Donate unwanted or outgrown gifts to charity.
* Recycle old or nonworking holiday lights through Recycle Your Holidays", a program of the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). Information on where to drop-off lights for recycling can be found at http://www.recycleminnesota.org/index.php/programs/recycle-your-holidays.
* Replace old light strings with energy-efficient LED lights.
* Use light strands with smaller,less energy-intensive bulbs.
* Reduce the size of the outdoors area that is decorated with lights, and reduce the length of time that the lights stay lit.
* Consider using a living indoor tree, such as a Norfolk Pine, as your Christmas tree.
* If shopping for a cut tree, look for trees that are grown locally, and that preferably have been grown in a sustainable manner (low- or no-pesticides and herbicides used; use of integrated pest management approaches). Garden stores, farmers' markets, and co-ops can be good sources for such trees. See http://bit.ly/rrwDHx for a partial list of places to purchase "chemical free" trees.
* Instead of store-bought decorations, use pinecones and other items from nature.
* Turn the thermostat down before guests arrive. Their body heat will help to create warm spaces.
* Use reuseable dishware and eating utensils; avoid disposables.
* Use an online service to send e-invitations instead of paper ones.
* Encourage guests to carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation to the party.
* Consider sending e-cards instead of paper ones.
* Use cards that are created locally, made from recycled paper stock, and/or that use paper that comes from sustainably managed forests (such as FSC certified).
Additional ideas for making the holidays more environmentally-friendly and sustainable can be found at the following sites: