No-Waste Holidays

Giving a gift from the heart doesn’t have to pack a wallup to your wallet or the planet. Instead of asking, “How much should I spend?” Think about asking, “Does it make a minimal impact on the planet?” A gift of time spent together out-of-doors, membership to a museum or a refinished rocking chair might be more meaningful than anything bought in a store.

Want to give a memorable gift that doesn’t hurt the environment?
• Look for gifts that are unpackaged or minimally packaged,without unnecessary plastic wrap or cardboard backing.
• Evaluate the gift for simplicity and durability. Consider the impact of your gift: Is it environmentally friendly and safe for children? Will it be reusable? Is it recyclable or madefrom recycled materials?
• Purchase holiday cards made from recycled paper or make your own fromitems found around the home.
• Help someone recycle – give a can crusher, a set of recycling bins or a recycling cart.
• Draw names or share the cost of a gift with a sibling or friend.
• Give an experience (for example, a ride in a hot air balloon or day trip on a train).
Party Reduction Waste Tips
Reprinted from Anoka County

Use reusable tableware; if you don’t have enough, borrow tableware from friends or family. If you must buy disposable tableware, buy sturdy plastic so they can be washed and reused

If you entertain often, buy tableware from used stores to keep on hand

Buy baked goods and snack foods in bulk

Rent party decorations, centerpieces and costumes instead of buying your own

Use colorful sheets you have on hand for tablecloths, or handkerchiefs for napkins instead of buying paper or plastic

Rent, rather than buy a tux or gown for a formal occasion

Place well labeled recycling containers by your garbage can so guests can recycle

Encourage host or hostess to reuse bows or wrapping paper and to recycle

Turn down the heat before guests arrive – their extra body heat will help warm the room

Plan meals wisely and buy based on the number of guests you expect

Give extra food to guest in reusable containers or reused plastic bags

• Make a giant edible cookie holiday card with a personal greeting in icing.
• Give a garden! Seeds, gloves, tools, etc.
• Create a family recipe book.

Still need gift ideas?
• Season tickets to a sporting event.
• Membership to a museum or nonprofit organization.
• Theater tickets.
• Free baby-sitting service.
• New parents? How about diaper service for a month?
• Share in an environmental fund.
• Reusable lunch bag.
• Refillable pens.
• Energy-saving fluorescent light fixture or bulb.
• 100% cotton dish towels or sheets
• Reusable coffee cup.
• Gift basket filled with non-toxic household cleaners
• An old tricycle, bicycle, rocking chair, etc., fixed up to pass along as an heirloom.
• Automatic thermostat control device
• Compost bin.
• Reusable food storage containers.
• Cloth shopping bag.
• Cloth napkins and rings.
• House plant.
• Solar watch or calculator.
• Reusable razor.
• Durable hand tools.
• Durable wooden toys.
• Quilts and comforters.
• Water-saving showerhead.
• Personalized “coupons,” such as a night off from dish duty, a foot massage, etc.
• Bat roosting box – bats keep insect populations down.
• Gourmet dinner for a busy couple.
• Bird feeder and seed.
• A subscription to a favorite environmental magazine.
• Stationery – made from recycled paper, of course – and stamps.
• Reusable bags, bows and gift wrapping.
• Car safety kit packed into a coffee can (e.g. candles, orange hazard triangle, etc.).
• Shutoff-timer for watering the lawn.

Looking for a gift-wrap alternative?
• Scarves, handkerchiefs or bandanas.
• Old posters and maps.
• Pages from a child’s coloring book taped together
• Old sheet music.
• Newspapers
• Last year’s holiday paper
• Wallpaper scraps.
• Home-sewn cloth bags.
• Fabric scraps.
• Pictures or advertisements from magazines and catalogs.
• Sunday comic pages.
• A present in a present (e.g., a hat in a matching scarf, jewelry in a wooden box, cookies in a reusable tin or cookie jar, barbecue grill utensils or picnic supplies in a tablecloth, kitchen gifts in towels or all-purpose cloths).
• A plain box decorated with leftover glitter, paint, markers, etc.
• A cake pan, basket or a wooden box.
• Reusable decorative bags.

Need packing material? Try:
• Popcorn (explain that birds can eat it.)
• Biodegradable starch packing peanuts.
• Used packing peanuts from previous gifts
• Crumpled ads from the newspaper

Looking for a final touch?
• Bows saved from other gifts.
• Reusable items (e.g., hair bows, ornaments, shoe laces or toys).
• Stencils or pictures from holiday cards pasted onto a plain brown paper bag or box.
• Last year’s holiday cards cut up for gift tags.
• Old neckties.
• Spices, (E.g., bundled cinnamon sticks or cloves in mesh cloth).
• Scrap fabric, lace, yarn, rickrack
• Scarves.
• beads and buttons.
• Dried or silk flowers.

Want a holiday tree?
• Consider buying a potted Norfolk pine, fig tree or indoor house plant that can be used every holiday season as your evergreen tree.
• Purchase a tree from a tree farm rather than cutting one down in the wild.
• Use trimmed branches from your tree for decorating around the home or making wreaths.
• Consider buying an artificial tree that can be reused every year.
• Decorate evergreen bushes or pine trees outside a window with removable, reusable decorations.

Need green decorations?
• Memorabilia, such as a child’s first shoe or grandma’s hankie scented with perfume.
• An old full skirt as a tree skirt.
• Old jewelry (E.g., necklaces, earrings or bracelets).
• Items collected on vacation.
• Small stuffed animals and toys.
• Cookie cutters.
• Miniature toy cars.
• Dressed-up doll as a tree-topper.
• Holiday card ornaments.
• Edible cookie ornaments
• Small pictures from old magazines or holiday cards
• Popcorn and cranberry strings (can be eaten by animals after the holidays).
• Buttons knotted on a sturdy length of string.
• Gingerbread people and reindeer from leftover brown paper grocery bags
• Tin can luminary