Resource: Sustainable Holiday Ideas
Title: Sustainable Holiday Ideas
Resource type: Article
Topics: Individual Choices
Keywords: waste reduction, reducing waste
Audience: All
Region: Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: There is a wide range of opportunities to reduce waste during the holiday season.
Content: 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.

Lights:

* 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.

Decorating:

* 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.

Parties:

* 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.

Cards:

* 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:

* http://www.pca.state.mn.us/yhiz29c

* http://bit.ly/5TbM3V

* http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/ecoconsumer/green-holidays.asp

Suggested by: Erin Barnes-Driscoll
Added: 01/12/12