holiday waste reduction guide

State law requires all loads be covered before transport.

Holidays are a busy time of year, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a wasteful time. With a little planning and mindfulness you'll have a wonderful holiday season that you can also feel good about. 

Here are a few tips to help reduce waste and recycle right during the holiday! 

wrapping gifts…

Wrapping paper is sometimes recyclable, however, the shiny, shimmery wraps usually are not.

Best practice: choose wrapping that looks and feels just like paper. When the excitement of gift opening is over, paper wrapping can either be tucked away and reused in the future, or go right in the recycle bin!

Remember: you don’t have to use wrapping paper.  Try something different this year!  Consider these:

  • Old newspaper or junk mail

  • Scarves, handkerchiefs, or bandannas

  • Old posters and maps

  • Pages from a child’s coloring book

  • Old sheet music

  • Pages from travel magazines

  • Wallpaper scraps

  • Home-sewn cloth bags

  • Fabric scraps (great for quilters!)

  • A cardboard box (you can decorate it too)


Bright lights don’t have to burn a hole in your electric bill!

  • Light emitting diode (LED) lights will reduce energy consumption as much as 85% over incandescents!

  • LEDs produce little heat and reduce risk of fire

  • LEDs can last for as long as 20 seasons!

    When you can’t use them anymore, always recycle your holiday lights!

    • City Hall in Mosinee: 225 Main Street, Mosinee. Call 715-693-2275 for details.

    • Habitat for Humanity’s Recycled Building Materials Facility at 1810 Schofield Ave in Weston. Open Saturdays 9am-1pm. Call 715-848-5042 for details.


In the US we produce around 34 million tons of food waste each year...and during the holiday season, that number triples. Here are some tips to reduce food waste at your holiday gathering:

  • Be realistic. We always want our guest to have plenty to eat, but frequently just make too much. Check out this website to learn how to plan perfect proportions.

  • Plan your menu ahead of time. Make a list, stick to it and avoid impulse buys.

  • Store leftovers safely: shred and freeze turkey so it’s ready for soup. Improper storage leads to spoilage and waste, so freezing is a good way to avoid that.

  • Invite your guests to bring reusable containers to take home leftovers.

  • Compost food scraps.

  • Create new meals with leftovers: bones from a rib roast or a turkey drumstick will make good soup stock; dinner rolls and bread can be dried to make croutons.

  • Donate excess food to food banks and shelters. Check to see what rules might apply first.

  • When giving the gift of food, make an effort to understand that it will be enjoyed and not wasted.


Charitable giving: Local charities and non-profits often make significant community impact and the holiday season could be a great time to help them continue their work. Consider pooling resources to give to a select charity.

  • Every charitable organization has different needs, whether financial or material.

  • Check to see what is on their “wish list.”

Does someone on your holiday gift list have everything and want nothing? Consider making a donation in their name to this person’s favorite cause.

  • Make a homemade coupon or award showing the donation provided on their behalf.

Visit the Wisconsin Non-Profit website to find a list of charities & non-profits in your area. 

waste-less GIFTS

By giving the gift of an experience or something functional you can easily avoid the waste of packaging and shipping, and the unseen waste of manufacturing.

  • State park pass

  • Hunting/fishing license

  • Compost bin & composting guide

  • House plants or starter kits for summer gardens

  • Window herb gardens

  • Bird feeders, bird seed & guide book

  • Reusable shopping bags

No-budget gift ideas

Gift giving doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether your child wants to give a gift or you're looking to reduce spending yourself, keep in mind that some of the best gifts are those that cost little or no money and instead foster relationships and fun.


  • Hand crafted gift certificates for doing the dishes, shoveling snow, or helping with homework

  • Having family game night

  • Making a family scrap book

  • Cooking a favorite meal together


  • Doing chores for a family with a new baby or for someone just home from the hospital

  • Doing the shopping for an elderly neighbor

  • Shoveling snow or help with a garden for someone who has difficulty getting around

  • Read newspapers or magazines to a vision impaired friend or relative

  • Just offer to sit and visit with someone who is alone