As the holidays approach, families are preparing to cook big meals and we’re all dreaming up gift ideas for our loved ones. While we all get into the holiday spirit, it can be easy to forget about being sustainable. Sometimes we may just be too occupied with the spirit of giving and being thankful to be worrying about food waste, plastic use and other things that are unsustainable. There are easy ways to combat these issues and still have the perfect holiday spent with family and friends.
Tips for sustainable meals:
Using reusable cutlery and plates is a great way to cut down on waste. Instead of buying plastic forks and paper plates, just use what is already in the cabinets at home. This option is easier on your wallet because you won’t be buying anything extra. If you enjoy the plates separated into compartments, try buying old lunch trays or platters from thrift stores. The water used to wash the dishes leaves a smaller footprint then the plastic will when it ends up in landfills. Make sure to also use biodegradable dish detergent as well.
When buying the ingredients for meals, see what you have in your kitchen first, then build your meals around what you already ownhave. Holidays this year already look different, so having a non-traditional holiday meal would only fit the theme. If you do have any grocery shopping to do, try to buying things with reusable or recyclable packaging, and stay away from single-use plastic wrapping.
Also, to cut down on food waste, only cook enough food for the amount of people at the gathering, or make sure to eat all of the leftovers over the next few days. If you find yourself with too many boxes of stuffing or cans of green beans, donate them to local food banks and give to those in need all while not letting any food go to waste.
Tips for sustainable gifts:
There are several ways to be sustainable and give gifts during the holidays. One big change you can make this year is recycling your gifts. Instead of buying a gift from a big retailer, buy the perfect present for all of your friends and family from a thrift store or second-hand store, or regift something you already own. A do-it-yourself gift from household materials would also be a sustainable option.
When boxing up or wrapping your presents, use one of many alternatives to plastic ribbons, bows and regular wrapping paper. Old newspapers or magazines are a good option for wrapping paper as well as recycled boxes. Another idea is to put the gift in a bag or crate the person could use; this makes the gift zero waste. An alternative to plastic bows and ribbon is fabric, or a do-it-yourself bow from paper you have lying around. If you already own gift wrapping supplies, make sure to use those up before buying any sustainable wrapping items. The best way to be sustainable is using what you already own.
Tips for sustainable outfits:
The holidays are also a time when people dress up in fancy clothes in order to get the perfect snapshot of the season. Instead of buying clothes that are fast fashion, thrift your outfit or borrow something from a friend’s or family member’s closet. Another option is to buy from a slow fashion company, but this may be a bit pricier. If saving money is the goal, wear something from last year but in a new way with fun accessories, like jewelry or a belt.
These are just a few easy switches to make for your next holiday gathering. It is a time when people are thankful for what they have and what they can give to others, so why not make it more special by being sustainable.