Tips for a green holiday

On average, household waste jumps 25 percent during the holiday season. Here are some tips from Hennepin County on going greener during the holidays:

• Give gifts that conserve natural resources. Give an experience — like tickets to a concert — instead of an item. Look for greener gifts, such as reusable cloth napkins or a gift basket of non-toxic household cleaners.

• Buy LED lights. Holiday lights can add up to $50 to your November and December energy bills. Invest in LED lights, which use significantly less energy than standard holiday lights. Although they cost more up front, LED lights pay for themselves in just one season of reduced energy bills.

• Host greener get-togethers. Send invites via e-mail, use reusable tableware, practice portion control, and have clearly marked recycling containers available.

• Be creative with gift wrapping. Reuse old wrapping, posters, maps, pages from coloring books, comics from the newspaper or even scarves as an alternative to gift wrap.

• Use reusable gift bags and pre-decorated gift boxes. Save packing peanuts, bubble wrap, boxes, bows and ribbons to use year after year.

• Recycle more. Recycle gift boxes, electronics boxes, paper gift tags and holiday cards with no foil. All cities in Hennepin County collect boxboard and cardboard, including boxes with printing or graphics, in their curbside recycling programs. You can recycle most styles of holiday cards. Don’t recycle photos or cards and envelopes with foil.

• Dispose of electronics and batteries properly. Because many electronics and batteries contain toxic metals such as mercury and cadmium, they must be recycled. Easy and convenient recycling is available at Hennepin County drop-off facilities in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park. Batteries also are collected at some libraries and city hall locations.

For more information, call Hennepin County Environmental Services at 348-3777 or visit