It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And sometimes one of the most wasteful, unfortunately. Here at The Preserve, I'm always looking for ways to have a great time but with less trash. I've found a few tricks to keep your holiday season more sustainable, more meaningful, and less wasteful!
1. Volunteer Your Time
Gather a group or head out solo and volunteer your time this holiday season! There is a big influx of volunteers participating in food drives, clothing drives, helping in shelter kitchens, etc. during this time. You can also make a pledge to continue donating your time after the holiday season when volunteer hours drop dramatically but the need still remains the same. Nothing is more precious than time, and giving back is not only good for your community but good for the soul. Check out these resources for a variety of different opportunities, or search for volunteer opportunities that you’re passionate about around your city.
3. Speaking of Parties…
Make sure to bring a reusable container to a party if you suspect leftovers… or politely ask your host to borrow a container. Just make sure to return in a timely fashion! (thanks to @thriftydanaloraine for the beautiful photo of vintage pyrex)
4. Send out Party Invites Electronically
It’s always nice to get a physical card, but electronic invitations are just as beautiful and make it easy for guests to access and RSVP!
5. Wrap Presents in Compostable Paper or Bandanas
I love wrapping gifts in brown craft paper (aka paper bags) and decorating with live plants because it’s just so beautiful. Plus, receivers of the gift can either recycle or compost the paper. Sometimes I will wrap a gift in a bandana. It’s a great way to present a gift within a gift – everyone can use a bandana!
6. Buy a Live Tree/Plant
My partner and I's tradition for the past 4 years is to buy a potted, live tree and decorate it for Christmas. After the holidays, we plant it in a friend’s yard (who has the space) or keep it on our patio. It’s not just pine trees we buy – last year we bought a rosemary bush! Don’t have the space to plant a tree? Gift it to your friends who do! Or opt for a secondhand fake tree – it’s already in the waste stream so you’re not creating demand for new waste.
7. Decorate with Compostable/Secondhand Items
Decorating my home for the holidays gives me great joy. But this year, I’m pledging to use what I already have, creating decorations that I can easily compost, donating my old decorations to Goodwill and/or pick up a piece or two from the thrift store. So many times I would get caught up in the shiny aisles of Target only to replace the decorations the next year. Try to refrain from fast purchases and instead take stock of what you already have, peruse secondhand stores, and opt for creating things with natural items! A few tips: Fresh boughs of pine, popcorn strings, and real holly!
8. Give the Gift of Experience
Every year my group of friends pick an experience to do together in lieu of buying each other presents. It’s always something I look forward to. Last year, we went to a burlesque winter wonderland show and it was amazing. You can always buy your loved ones or friends experiences instead of physical gifts – they don't have to be extravagant and can create a special memory that will last a lifetime! Groupon usually has some good deals on experiences!
9. Give Sustainable Items
If you can’t gift experiences, or you’re looking for a more inexpensive price point, purchasing sustainable items are great choices for your friends and family! Maybe the receiver is curious about starting a sustainable journey – a metal straw or reusable wattle bottle is the perfect way to start out!
10. Be Responsible for Leftovers
Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. My other favorite part of the holiday season! However, sometimes we just have TOO much. Make sure to send leftovers home with people and encourage them to bring their own container, compost your food waste responsibly, and look to reuse or repurpose as much as you can. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make fabulous stock from the turkey carcass and vegetable scraps!
11. Recycle Your Twinkly Lights
Have old twinkly lights that haven’t worked for ages? Wanting to get rid of broken light strings? DON’T throw them in the landfill! This site will lovingly take your old lights and recycle them responsibly. You only need to pay for shipping, AND you get 15% off your order of new lights when you send your old ones in.
12. Take Time for Self Care
Having a sustainable holiday starts within ourselves. Keeping good personal 'sustainability' means finding balance with your mental and physical health this holiday. Make sure to carve out some 'you time' by taking a yoga class, practicing meditation, or indulging in a hot bath. For many people the holidays can be overwhelming and sometimes we're susceptible to overindulging, so know your limits and make your personal sustainability a priority!
Have your own sustainable holiday tips, tricks, or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!