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This is a time of consumption. It’s also a time of massive waste.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans will throw away about 25 millions tons of garbage, about 25% more than any other time of the year. [source] Nothing holly or jolly about that.

While we’d be naive to think we can eliminate all that excess waste that comes with the holidays, we can do little things that will go a long way.

It doesn’t take much; a little creativity, planning, and maybe a little mindshift. But really, it’s easy, less stressful, and will likely save you some money too.

We put together some tips on how to integrate some low or zero waste alternatives into your holiday season.

Decking the Halls

Trees, lights, ugly sweaters, table settings, ornaments and more. No question decorations play a huge part in our celebrations. It is a great source of joy but don’t rush out every year to buy more decor.

You are likely already reusing items from prior years, so take that secondhand spirit and hit the resale shops. They are typically flush with Christmas items that are priced to sell. Get fun and crafty with your finds.

But better yet, turn to nature. Natural elements like pine cones, fallen leaves and branches, locally grown or foraged flowers, squash, gourds, sprigs of fresh herbs, popcorn, tree cuttings, and more can all be used as is or arranged for lovely seasonal displays.

natural settings

Entertaining

If you’re having a gathering this year, do all you can to avoid having to buy any disposable plates and cutlery. If you don’t have enough dishes or serving ware, try to borrow some from a friend, neighbor, or family. Another option is to hit the thrift stores. There’s usually a good supply of plates, glasses, silverware, platters, and the like. Embrace the fact that not everything will match. You’re doing something much more important.

As a last resort, we carry disposable options that are plant-based and compostable.

Food

Food waste is such a massive environmental problem, but there are a few simple tips that are really easy to implement that you can start using today.

First is to make a list of who is eating what, what you’re serving, and what you’ll need. Then stick to the list.

It helps to keep your recipes simple too. You don’t need much more than the basics to pull together a really satisfying and celebratory meal.

Choosing plant-based meals is another excellent way to reduce the amount of excess packaging that can come with large meals. Fruits and veggies already come packaged up naturally you know.

Also, it’s an excellent time to buy from the bulk department. We have all the pantry and baking essentials like flour, salt, oats, sugar, nuts, grains and more, and you can get just what you need. It will save you from having too much and a few bucks too.

When entertaining, encourage your guests to bring some storage containers with them so you can share the leftovers in a zero-waste way.

Gifts

lean kanteen shelf

We really encourage you to shop with intention this year, and to go for as low waste as you can get. There really are a lot of great options and generally, they’re easy tcome by. It just takes a little thinking outside the mall.

A great alternative to gifting stuff is giving experiences. Tickets to events, museum memberships, IOU’s for helping out, donations to nonprofits, or outdoor adventures all make great presents.

If you’re up for it, try making things. Soaps, bath salts, cookies, crafts, or art are options.

You’re still likely going to have to buy a thing or two, and that’s ok. Just try to buy products that are made from or contain recycled content. Same goes for packaging, try to get them in recyclable or biodegradable materials.

Also when gifting, we’re going to mention second hand again. With all the chatter about supply chains and all the last we looked, there was more than enough stuff in circulation to get everyone gifts 100s of times over.

For gifts that keep on giving, give reusables. Insulated water bottles, sustainable totes, food storage containers, are all things they will be able to use time and time again. Plus, you may help a loved one kick a bad bottled water habit.

Gift cards are also a good option as you can be fairly certain they won’t go to waste. A gift card to a local grocery store is an excellent example of this 😉.

Wrapping Up

Don’t buy new conventional wrapping paper.

It’s hard to recycle (some places don’t) it uses a ton of resources, toxic inks, polluting foils and glitter, it’s wrapped in plastic, and has limited use.

Plus, you may already have some. It’s cool to use existing materials like newspapers, comics, magazines, calendars, maps, grocery bags, fabric, or reusable gift bags.

If you do need to get some, look for something that is FSC-certified, printed with plant-based inks, and is recyclable and compostable.

See, we told you it would be pretty easy to adopt a low or zero waste mindset heading into the holidays. None of these ideas are groundbreaking or difficult to achieve, but we hope it helps you take a moment to be inspired and refocus how you celebrate this and every year.

It’s one gift for you.

good things await you

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