Green digest // Cut back on holiday trash

Cut back on holiday trash

Hennepin County issued a pre-Thanksgiving Day reminder to watch what goes in the trash this holiday season.

On average, Minnesotans produce about seven pounds of waste per day, but household waste increases by about 25 percent from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day, the county reported. Extra food waste, torn wrapping paper and holiday decorations all contribute to the annual increase in trash.

Hennepin County put together a pamphlet with 100 tips for reducing holiday trash and posted it on their website. (It’s not that easy to find, so here’s some help: Start by clicking on the “Environment, Property & Transportation” tab, then click on “Environment” and a link to the pamphlet should appear in the “What’s New” section.)

The county also offered its top five tips:

1. Give gifts that conserve natural resources

2. Use reusable tableware

3. Buy LED (holiday) lights

4. Recycle

5. Reuse gift-wrap supplies

The Greening Your Celebrations guide doesn’t settle the debate over whether a real Christmas tree or a fake one is better for the environment, but it does offer tips for limiting the environmental impact of either option.

The tips cover holiday decorating, entertaining, shopping and gift giving. They guide even suggests some New Year’s resolutions for a greener 2010.


Twin Cities recycling guide updated

The Resourceful Waste Management Guide, an online guide to local waste management and recycling options, is now available in a new and improved version.

Published by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, a regional waste authority, the guide is designed for use by metro-area businesses, but also has information that could be used by individuals. An updated search function should make it easier to use, the coordinating board reported.

The guide connects local businesses to facilities or organizations that dispose of, reuse or recycle waste. Users can search for waste management options by location, material or category, such as automotive and recreation, food service or construction.

The guide has listings for area recycling, hazardous waste and trash facilities, including online maps to their locations. There also is information on local organizations that accept donated materials.

The guide can be found at


A day for recycling

Green Digest didn’t catch this one in time, but consider this fair warning for next year: Nov. 15 was America Recycles Day.

The annual event, in its 12th year, is intended to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling. Participants are encouraged to recycle and purchase recycled products.

America Recycles Day is celebrate every year on Nov. 15, so there’s plenty of time to plan for next fall. In the meantime, check out, to get some ideas on spreading the word about recycling in your community.


Energy meters proving popular

The Xcel Energy Power Check home energy meters now available for checkout at Hennepin County Library locations — mentioned last month in this column — are proving very popular.

The county reported in November more than 550 people were on a waiting list to check out one of the meters. Fifty meters became available at local libraries Oct. 1.

The meters plug into a standard 120-volt home appliance and record data on voltage, electricity consumption and the energy costs. That data can be downloaded into a home computer using a USB cord, which is included in the kit along with instructions.

The data can be used to determine which appliances are the biggest energy drains in the house — so called “energy vampires” that contribute to high electricity bills. A smart homeowner could use the information to reduce appliance use or seek out a new, energy-efficient replacement to an older appliance.

Go to the Hennepin County Library web page ( and search for “power check” to find the availability of meters at your local library and watch an online video about how the meters work.


A local guide to "ethical eating"

The folks at local food blog Heavy Table put together the Atlas of Ethical Eating, a guide to local restaurants making eating out more sustainable.

Introduced in October, the Atlas had listings for 17 Twin Cities restaurants and food stores as of early November, including Barbette, Bryant-Lake Bowl, Common Roots, France 44 Cheese Shop and Linden Hills Co-op in Southwest.

The restaurants and shops self-report the information contained in the 14-question surveys, which can be read on the Heavy Table website

Survey questions include whether or not restaurants compost food waste, offer tap water and serve sustainable or locally grown foods. Restaurant owners were also asked to describe their efforts to limit their carbon footprint.