DNR shares tips for a sustainable holiday season

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources put out a news release Wednesday sharing "green tips for a tree-mendous holiday season."

This holiday season, the DNR is encouraging Missourians to think about the environment as they celebrate. According to the release, Americans usually create the largest amount of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The DNR shared five ways to "maximize your holiday cheer" and be environmentally friendly this year.

The first tip is to "think before you give." The release encourages people to consider making their own gifts to give to friends and family. A couple of ideas include using old glass jars to create homemade snow globes or filling them with cake or cookie mix to create a treat. Another gift idea is to use T-shirts with sentimental value to create a homemade quilt.

The DNR's website has additional ideas for sustainable gift-giving. If people want to buy gifts, the DNR recommends buying cloth shopping bags, lunch boxes, cloth napkins and tablecloths, and other eco-friendly gifts. When wrapping presents, people are encouraged to reuse old wrapping paper and gift bags or use maps, comics from newspapers or posters as an alternative. Decorative boxes and tins can also be used instead of throwaway wrapping materials, according to the website.

The second tip is to "count your blessings." It's estimated that landfills are filled more with food than any other type of waste, according to the release. The DNR encourages celebrants to adjust their recipes to make just enough food to feed guests, reducing waste and cutting down on leftovers. When people do cook more than they need, the release said, composting is an alternative to throwing food waste away.

The third way to stay green this holiday season is to "have an extra-green Christmas tree." The DNR encourages people to shop for Christmas trees at local tree farms, as this means fewer trees are being transported from long distances to be sold. This cuts down on fossil-fuel emissions. Another way to make your Christmas tree purchase more sustainable is to buy a Missouri-native potted tree. That way, the release said, the tree can be replanted outside once the holidays are over.

The DNR's fourth recommendation: "May your holidays be merry and bright." Holiday celebrants should try to use LEDs when hanging up lights, as they use less energy and have a longer life than normal lights, according to the release. People can also use timers to turn lights on and off automatically, reducing energy consumption.

The DNR website shares some other ways decorating can be environmentally friendly. People can create popcorn strings to decorate their trees and put it outside as bird food later, homemade ornaments can be made from pine cones and fabric scraps, and scrap paper can be turned into paper snowflakes.

"That's a wrap." The final tip in the release is to find ways to repurpose holiday waste. Wrapping paper and bags from gifts can be saved for use in the following years and trees can be turned into mulch or wildlife habitats.

"With a little creativity and planning, you can help alleviate unnecessary waste in our landfills, save money and have a tree-mendous holiday!" the release said.

All the information on "green" holiday tips can be found at https://dnr.mo.gov/document-search/green-tips-seasons-holidays-pub2993/pub2993.

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