Friday, November 28, 2008

No-Waste Holiday Ideas Reducing waste and giving “green gifts” during the holiday season

Anoka County and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency gathered ideas from many sources to help you reduce the amount of waste you generate during the holiday season. By implementing these ideas, you can also reduce holiday costs.

Be creative and have fun. Have a SMART Holiday Season!

reduce.orgSeason’s Green-ings

Recent polls have shown that people want to have more personal fulfillment and a less-stressful holiday season. Sometimes the most treasured gifts we can give are our time, love and energy.

In the spirit of giving, we've gathered some holiday gift ideas that create less waste and more memories. Visit for more ideas on reducing waste and stress during the holiday season.

Gift wrapping
Trying to avoid the "gift wrap trap?" Here are some great ideas for gift wrapping alternatives.

* Scarves, handkerchiefs or bandannas.
* Old posters and maps.
* Pages from a child's coloring book taped together (especially nice for relatives who would enjoy the artwork). Old sheet music
* Old sheet music.
* Newspapers (foreign newspapers are great).
* Last year's holiday paper (press with warm iron if wrinkled).
* Wallpaper scraps.
* Home-sewn cloth bags.
* Fabric scraps.
* Pictures or advertisements from magazines and catalogs.
* Sunday comic pages.
* A present in a present (for example, 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. Hollywood box
* A “Hollywood box:” individually wrap or decorate the top and bottom of a box with a separate lid. Encourage the recipient to reuse the box.
* Purchase wrapping paper made from recycled paper.

Consider these alternatives:

* Dry, popped popcorn (include a note explaining that birds can eat it.)
* Biodegradable starch packing peanuts.
* Used packing peanuts from previous gifts (unwanted packing peanuts, if they are clean, are accepted by many packaging stores for reuse).
* Crumpled ads from the newspaper. (The ink on glossy paper won't smear as it does on the rest of the newspaper.)

Bows and ribbonsRibbon
These items make an eye-catching final touch:

* Bows saved from other gifts.
* Reusable items, such as 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 necktie
* Old neckties.
* Spices, such as bundled cinnamon sticks or cloves in mesh cloth.
* Scrap fabric, lace, yarn, rickrack and seam tape.
* Scarves.
* Combinations of beads and buttons.
* Dried or silk flowers.

Holiday tree

* Holiday treeConsider 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.

Tree ornaments/decorating
Here are a few ideas for adding a special touch to holiday decorations:

* Baby's shoe 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 (restring old necklaces, hang 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: cut up; glue felt fabric scraps on back; tie with yarn scraps.
* Edible cookie ornaments: use gingerbread or sugar cookie dough; poke a hole at the tip using a drinking straw; decorate and bake; thread a ribbon through hole; tie ribbon in a large loop and hang on bough of tree.
* Small pictures from old magazines or holiday cards: cut out; glue onto old plastic lid; decorate with beads, buttons or jewelry; punch a hole and hang with string or yarn.
* Popcorn and cranberry strings (can be eaten by animals after the holidays). Buttons
* Reusable glass icicles instead of disposable tinsel (keeps tree clean for mulching).
* Buttons knotted on a sturdy length of string.
* Spices from the kitchen instead of commercially prepared and packaged products or aerosols (for example, create pomander balls by placing whole cloves in oranges or lemons to create decorations that look and smell great).
* Gingerbread people and reindeer from leftover brown paper grocery bags (place on windows and walls for decoration.)
* Tin can luminary (punch holes into empty metal can; place candle inside.)

Party waste reduction tips
These suggestions can really reduce the amount you have to throw away after a party:

* Buy baking goods and snack food in bulk or large volumes.
* Use reusable tableware; if you don't have enough, ask to borrow reusable tableware from friends or family.
* Rent dishes, napkins, cups and saucers, tablecloths and glasses instead of using expensive disposables. Please recycle
* Cut up last year's holiday cards and use as place cards.
* Use outdated calendars taped together to make a unique New Year's tablecloth.
* Place easily identifiable recycling containers at your celebration so guests can recycle their pop cans, bottles, etc.
* Encourage host or hostess to reuse and recycle bows, wrapping paper, cans, glass, etc.
* Point out the ways your party demonstrates waste reduction and recycling, and SPREAD THE WORD.

Quick craft: Pine cone “fire starters”

1. Melt old colored candle stubs, dip pine cones in hot wax and place on a piece of wax paper.
2. Fill muffin tins half full with hot wax, place a wick on the side of the tin and dip wax-coated pine cones into each tin. The wick will be anchored in the wax and attached securely to the pine cone.
3. Cool in freezer five to 10 minutes.
4. Turn upside down and cones should fall out.
5. To use, just place under wood and light.

Green gift ideas
Knit hatConsider giving thoughtful gifts this year that are not resource-consuming. Some of the most favored and remembered gifts are those we can make ourselves. Avoid the trap of “How much should I spend?”

* Look for gifts that are unpackaged or minimally packaged, without unnecessary plastic wrap or cardboard backing.
* Evaluate the gift for simplicity and durability.
* Buy durable gifts with long-term warranties.
* Know the store's return policy and include tags or receipts for easier exchange or return.
* Consider the impact of your gift: Is it environmentally friendly and safe for children? Will it be reusable? Is it recyclable or made from recycled materials? Can crusher
* Purchase holiday cards made from recycled paper or make your own from items 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).
* Make a giant edible cookie holiday card; put on a personal greeting with icing.
* Give a garden! Seeds, gloves, tools, etc.
* Create a family recipe book. Tried skydiving?
* Give yourself or your children time to simply enjoy the season.

Other ideas for gifts:

* 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. Fluorescents
* Refillable pens.
* Energy-saving fluorescent light fixture or bulb. (Compact fluorescent bulbs last longer and use about 1/4 to 1/3 of the energy of an incandescent bulb. Substituting a compact fluorescent light for a traditional bulb will keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb.)
* 100% cotton dish towels or sheets; look for unbleached cotton.
* Reusable coffee cup.
* Gift basket filled with non-toxic household cleaners (try local co-ops or environmental stores for gift ideas).
* An old tricycle, bicycle, rocking chair, etc., fixed up to pass along as an heirloom.
* Automatic thermostat control device (automatically turns down heat at night).
* Compost bin.
* Reusable food storage containers. Reusable mug
* 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.

What IS it?Gifts to avoid

* Over-packaged, resource-consuming gifts.
* Plastic or electric gadgets with limited use.
* Disposable products.
* Anything in aerosol containers (ask for non-aerosol alternatives).

Donation opportunities

* Give to your local food shelf.
* Donate outgrown winter clothing items such as sweaters, boots, coats, mittens and snowsuits to thrift stores and local donation centers. An item you no longer have use for could be someone else's treasure.
* Community Assistance Programs
o Easter Seals/Goodwill Industries, Inc. – 651-379-5800
553 Fairview Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104
o Salvation Army – 612-332-5855
900 Fourth Street North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
o Contact your county offices.
o Check the Yellow Pages under thrift stores for more ideas.
* Make a cash donation to your favorite environmental or community organization.

After the holidays
Save wrappings

* Save packing material, wrapping and tissue paper for reuse.
* Use leftover gift wrap to line shelves and dresser drawers.
* Cut up leftover wrap to make scratch pads.
* Save bows, ribbon, tags, festive bags and boxes for next year.
* Recycle your tree! Some communities make discarded holiday trees into mulch for use in community parks. Call your county for more information.

Green resolutions for the New Year

* Use only cloth cleaning towels. Green thoughts
* Install water-saving devices in your toilet and shower.
* Walk or bicycle at least one car errand weekly.
* Use reusable cloth shopping bags (keep reusable shopping bags in your car so they will always be handy).
* Use a reusable coffee cup at work.
* Switch to compact fluorescent lights to save energy.
* Turn down the thermostat at night.
* Recycle bottles, cans, newspaper, office paper, plastic and cardboard.
* Buy recycled products.
* Compost.
* Plant at least one tree.
* Turn off the shower while you soap to save water.
* Use biodegradable laundry soap rather than petroleum-based detergents.
* Reduce use of pesticides and other hazardous household chemicals. Use safer substitutes instead.
* Write or call legislators, store managers and others to let them know how you feel about environmental issues.

Use your imagination!
Before you throw anything away, ask yourself:

* Can it be fixed or repaired?
* Could it be made more attractive?
* Could part of it be used to make something?
* Could someone else use it?
* Would it be someone else's treasure?

Looking for even more?

* For more information about waste reduction and recycling in Minnesota, contact your county solid waste office. The number can be found in the blue pages of the phone book.

* The Media Foundation invites consumers to curtail their desires to consume through its annual Buy Nothing Day. Held on the day after Thanksgiving — the unofficial kick-off of “the holiday season,” and one of the busiest shopping days of the year — this international event is a challenge "to think about the "shop-till-you-drop" imperative and its effects on the rest of the world."

* The Use Less Stuff Report (ULS) offers up 42 Ways to Trim Your Holiday Wasteline — an interesting checklist of waste reduction tips for the holidays. Check out Have A Low Impact Y2Kristmas, with more tips about reducing waste during the holidays, and some good advice on how the average person can make the biggest impact on the environment.

* The California Integrated Waste Management Board encourages you to “Deck the Halls with Less Waste!”

* In King County, Washington, Waste-Free Holidays focus on giving the "gift of experience" instead of "stuff." While these are Seattle-area attractions, there are a lot of ideas that Minnesotans can find locally.

* Environmental Defense offers advice to help shoppers use their "greenbacks" to make their world a "greener place."

* The Center for a New American Dream offers up ideas to Simplify the Holidays, with suggestions for planning a holiday season that's less focused on "stuff."

* INFORM offers "Tips for a Cleaner, 'Greener' Holiday"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Holidays Hole-latta freebies @ "a wrestling addicted mommy" blog

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Passion Parties by Mary!!!(Austin, TX)

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Monday, November 17, 2008

15% off coupon at Toys-R-us!!!

Great Coupon-just in time for the holidays!!!
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Polliwogged 2008 Holiday Gift Guide & Singer Curvy Giveaway!!!

A team of baby bloggers has put together a list of their favorite gifts for babies and new parents this holiday season. Read on for a lot of great ideas for babies, moms, and dads, and find out how to enter to win one of two Singer Curvy sewing machines - a real treat for yourself or for someone on your holiday shopping list!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One of my favorite new found websites to check for babystuff is FreePeats.Org. This website is where you can get baby, toddler, kid and maternity stuff and offer your items to other needy moms, and clear some space in that closet!!! It is really like a Craiglist for mamas! Not every city is available yet and it is free to join( Today is the last day!!!) so there is no harm in signing up, then it's just around $5 to join for life! Not that bad...easier than a garage sale! All you do is check the FreePeats board and when you see an item you want, email that person and ask about getting the item. Or post your item and arrange for a FreePeats member to get that item from you...SIMPLE!!!So check it out TODAY if your interested and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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