Creating Less Waste During the Holidays
There's no denying that the Holiday season can be wonderful. Loving gatherings, yummy food, cozy nights in... opportunities to unwind and express gratitude. But, this time of year, in particular, takes its toll on the environment.
- Over 20% of purchased food ends up in the trash.
- Over 145 million unwanted gifts are given every year. Over half of them end up in the trash.
- It is estimated that the U.S. goes through more than 4.5 million pounds of wrapping paper a year, half of which ends up in landfills. Metallic, glitter and textured wrapping paper is not recyclable. Neither are decorative ribbons, bows, and glitter-laden holiday cards.
So let's be a little more conscious this holiday season! Luckily, there are a lot of ways we can celebrate without contributing to the crazy amount of waste created during these upcoming weeks. Here are a few tips and suggestions that can save you money and help our planet at the same time:
- Cooking off recipes usually means having to buy more of an ingredient than you need. Keep this in mind when meal planning and preparing leftovers. For example, if you have extra heavy cream from a pasta dish and rosemary from the turkey, reheat (and revamp) potatoes by adding some leftover cream, rosemary and butter to them.
- Meal plan with your family/friends. Sometimes, you'll both need a little bit of the the same ingredient - split the list of common ingredients and buy half each, then share. I do this with my mom every Thanksgiving.
- Go plastic-free with your food storage. Alternatives include: glass and stainless steel containers, beeswax wraps, or silicone bowl covers.
- Gift cookies and treats in recyclable boxes or paper bags.
- Eat your leftovers! Freeze for later, or use in other dishes.
Gift Wrap + Gifts
- Get creative! Use tins, wood boxes, glass jars, extra fabric, or baskets. Decorate with twine, dried lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, or pine cones.
- Re-use gift bags, bows, and tissue paper. Store with your decorations. I haven't purchased a gift bag, holiday or birthday, in years.
- Only use 100% recycled and/or recyclable wrapping paper. How to know if it's recyclable? Do the scrunch test. If you scrunch it up and it stays in a ball - you can recycle it.
- Give eco-friendly, sustainable gifts. Experiences, event tickets, second-hand, donations to charity, homemade treats, and zero-waste items can be meaningful and don't create waste. Last year, I made lotion/bath bars for my friends and gifted them in a glass mason jar.
- Buy less. In my experience, thoughtful wins over quantity every time. Be intentional in your gift giving. The holidays shouldn't be about excess.
Hope these tips can help you create a little less waste this season. It's all about caring and making an effort. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to try!
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