Tough on the planet, tough on us: that’s how the holidays have been for far too long. North Americans rank among the highest generators of waste per capita in the world, and that waste increases significantly during the holidays. Together, let’s discover new ways to enjoy the holidays.
1. Rethink gift giving
Save your busy trips to the mall.
Buying from a local store or supporting a local brand, artisan, or craftsperson does more than bolster our local economies by putting money back into our communities: it supports the dreams of hardworking small business owners.
Offer an experience
Consider ideas such as gift certificates for experiences, like the following:
- restaurants or coffee shops
- a homemade meal
- yoga or meditation
- museums, art galleries, or other attractions
- spas or hair salons
- streaming service for music, movies/TV, or audiobooks
- a family photo shoot
- movie theaters
- bike rentals
Seek out ethical alternatives
If you’re looking for a material gift, choose something as ethical and eco-friendly as possible. For example, if someone would like a handbag, can you shop at a secondhand or vintage store? If you’re looking for a yoga mat, can you select one that’s made from natural or upcycled materials?
What can you make? Consider the following ideas:
- a batch of cookies
- DIY lip balm, lotion bars, or sugar scrub
- a framed piece of artwork/photography
- a plant you propagated
- homemade granola
- roasted spiced nuts
- a knitted scarf
- loose leaf tea blends
Sometimes the best gifts are the simplest! Who on your list would prefer cold hard cash? Or perhaps someone truly wants nothing, and you can instead donate to a nonprofit organization.
2. Rethink wrapping
Here are some other ideas:
- Reuse gift bags and ribbons.
- Consider free, upcycled materials, such as newsprint, magazines, and old maps or calendars.
- Look up the Japanese art of “furoshiki,” or wrapping with cloth. Scour thrift stores for handkerchiefs or vintage scarves; or make the cloth part of the gift: a scarf, tea towel, or baby blanket.
- Research how to wrap without tape. With some strategic folding, tying, or ribbons, you don’t need it!
- Add a flourish with natural materials such as an evergreen branch or holly.
3. Rethink entertaining
When entertaining this year, consider the following strategies:
- Forgo the disposable cutlery and plates. Use this excuse to enjoy the “good” serving ware or cloth napkins that you keep tucked away for a special occasion.
- Avoid buying new decorations. If you require something you don’t have, check out a thrift store or borrow from nature: use fallen branches, holly, or pinecones for a touch of winter wonderland indoors.
- Eat lower on the food chain. Animal products, in general, have a much higher environmental footprint than plant-based foods. Consider serving a vegan or vegetarian meal; if that’s not possible, simply serve less meat.
- Reduce food waste by sticking to a list, preparing a little less than usual, and always composting leftovers.
Written by Leah Payne