The winter holiday season is upon us. It may still feel a bit different this year due to the pandemic. However you celebrate, there are ways to reduce your waste and recycle better this season.

Guest-imate food correctly

The golden rule of food waste reduction is to buy what you need and eat what you buy—this can be tricky when planning for gatherings of family and friends. With some celebrations smaller than normal due to the pandemic, you may need help planning a holiday meal for fewer people, estimating the right amount of groceries to buy or coming up with ideas for what to do with the leftovers.

Visit to help you estimate how much food you will need and reduce the amount of wasted food. Also, learn how to properly store groceries and leftovers to enjoy them longer. Want to do even more to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the trash? Turn it into compost by participating in Ramsey County’s food scraps collection program. Free starter kits available. Learn more at

Wrap it up

Most wrapping paper with glitter, foil and similar embellishments is not recyclable. And the fibers in wrapping paper are typically too short to be recycled again. Try wrapping your gifts in kraft paper, newspaper, fabric gift wrap or reusable gift bags.

Receiving lots of deliveries from online shopping? Remember to flatten all boxes before placing them in your recycling cart. For more tips on how to recycle better, visit

Dispose of holiday lights the right way

Holiday and other string lights don’t belong in your recycling cart. Cords and string lights can tangle up and damage sorting machines at recycling facilities. Ramsey County residents can drop off lights and cords, household chemicals and more at the year-round household hazardous waste collection site in Saint Paul. Learn more and find a list of accepted items at

Recycle your holiday tree

When the holidays have passed, bring your live tree to a Ramsey County yard waste collection site to be mulched. Please be sure to remove all decorations, lights, wire, tinsel and tree bags. Find which yard waste sites accept trees at

Want to save the trip? Contact your trash hauler to see if they pick up trees curbside. A fee may be charged.

Supercharge your recycling

Did you know that some batteries—like lithium-ion batteries—can cause fires when they end up in the trash or recycling? Drop off used batteries at a Ramsey County household hazardous waste collection site. All types of batteries are accepted. Learn more at

Give your old gadgets new life

If you receive new electronics as gifts this year, don’t throw your old ones in the trash. Consider selling, gifting or donating working electronics you no longer need. If your old electronics don’t work, check for recycling options.

While you’re enjoying the season with holiday celebrations, gifts and more, brush up on your recycling know-how to minimize waste while maximizing cheer! Learn more at