It’s already time to prepare for the holidays — can you believe it?! While decorating the house, gift giving and eating lots of food are some of the best ways to get into the spirit, they also can be super wasteful too. Lots of excess and waste accumulates this time of year, so here are some of my easy tips to be a little more sustainable this holiday season:
Decorate with perishables | I’ll be honest, some decorations you just can’t replace. For me, that’s the ornaments on our tree and our stockings. But other than that, one of my favorite ways to decorate is with natural elements that can be found right outside! Ferns, twigs and pinecones can be foraged and used for a charming and zero waste alternative to fake greenery. Plus, once the season’s over, compost them or toss them back out in the yard… no need for bulky storage!
Wrap with care | While glittery and printed paper may be tempting, I’ve had a lot of fun being more creative with wrapping gifts during the holidays. There are plenty of supplies already at my fingertips that don’t require a wasteful purchase! Newspapers, brown paper bags, magazine pages, old linen clothes and other items are perfect for upcycling. Decorate your wrapped package with twigs or a stem of pine or rosemary and you have a wrapped gift with no extra waste! Plus, your gifts will certainly be the most unique under the tree!
Gift more thoughtfully | One of my favorite things to gift, especially when I have a lot of people to give to, is something homemade. A gift that requires your time definitely means a lot more than something that only requires your money! Create soy candles with essential oils and mason jars, or bake cookies and other treats. One of my personal favorites is to make infused olive oil for cooking. My favorite is garlic and rosemary, but this recipe for roasted garlic infused oil sounds delicious too. Divide into anything from old salad dressing jars to empty wine bottles and there you have it! Outside of the time element that comes with making a gift, you can also control the ingredients in and process of creating your product, meaning no toxic ingredients or excessive plastic waste. Win/win for you and the gift recipient! If you aren’t a DIYer, look into finding gifts at vintage shops. How much more thoughtful and cool is it to gift a vintage denim jacket, belt or decanter?!
Be responsible with food waste | While considering composting is my first recommendation when it comes to food waste all year round, sometimes you may not have the means or resources to do so, especially while traveling. My suggestion is to see how unwanted food can go to use: sure, taking leftovers to eat (for days) post holiday is a must, but what about unopened or perfectly good unused items? Donate them! Beef bones and/or veggies scraps going into the trash? Save and freeze them until you can make a big pot of homemade stock. Often times we throw away food out of habit, when we could really be getting so much more out of what we have! Think proactively before tossing and see how much more you can do with extra food this season.
What tips and tricks do you have for being more sustainable during the holidays?
This post was originally written for Jess Ann Kirby.