holiday waste reduction guide

  State law requires all loads be covered before transport.

Holidays are a busy time of year, but they do not have to be a wasteful time. With a 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 during the holiday: 

wrapping waste reduction

Wrapping paper can be recyclable, however, the shiny, shimmery wraps usually are not. 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:

  • Scarves, handkerchiefs, or bandannas
  • Old posters and maps
  • Pages from a child’s coloring book
  • Old sheet music
  • Pages from travel magazines
  • Newspapers (Vintage or foreign are great fun)
  • Wallpaper scraps
  • Home-sewn cloth bags
  • Fabric scraps (great for quilters!)
  • A box decorated with leftover glitter, paint, markers, etc.


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!
  • Recycle your holiday lights: 
    • City of Mosinee: 225 Main Street, Mosinee. Located inside City Hall. Call 715-692-2203
    • Habitat for Humanity collects holiday light strands and extension cords in any condition, at no cost to you.  Drop them off at the Recycled Building Materials facility at 500 S 38th Ave, Wausau.  Open Saturdays 9am-1pm.  Call 715-848-5042 for more 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.
  • Go small. Help you and your guest enjoy good food and not break the diet. Smaller plates make for smaller servings and fewer calories.
  • Store leftovers safely so you or your guests can enjoy them later. Improper storage leads to spoilage and waste.
  • Ask your guest to bring reusable containers to take home leftovers.
  • Compost food scraps.
  • Create new meals with leftovers. A bone 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. Always check to see what rules might apply at your local food bank or shelter.
  • When giving the gift of food, avoid perishable items and make an effort to give a food gift you know will be enjoyed . 


Charitable Giving: Local charities and non-profits always appreciate the gift of giving. During the holiday season this is especially true. Instead of exchanging family gifts, consider pooling resources to give to a select charity.

  • Every charitable organization has different needs.
  • Always check with your favorite charities to see what is on their “wish list.”

Does someone on your holiday gift list have everything and want nothing? Consider giving a monetary donation to this person’s favorite charity.

  • Make a homemade coupon or award showing the donation provided on their behalf. Decorate for the season & give on that special day!

Visit the Wisconsin Non-Profit website to find a list of charities & non-profits! 

waste-less GIFTS

While these gift ideas may have some kind of waste somewhere along in the process, they are ultimately encouraging of healthy habits and / or activities that have positive impacts on you and the environment!

  • 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. Consider these no-budget gift ideas:


  • Hand crafted gift certificates
  • Playing a game on Saturday night
  • Making a family scrap book
  • Taking the dog out
  • Helping a sibling with homework
  • Doing the dishes for a week
  • Making a favorite dish
  • Quiet time to take a long bath


  • Extra help for a family with a new baby or for someone just home from the hospital
  • Help with chores for family with service member
  • 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