I was making a list of how our family creates a zero waste holiday to help me with an interview and thought I should share our go to ZW tips and tricks. These ideas help our family to slow down and make this could be crazy and stressful season much more fun and less stressful. Don’t stress trying to go totally Zero Waste nobody is perfect, that’s why I created this list to make it less stressful. I have even provided links to things in my list that I have used or found that fit the zw bill.
- Remember its not about the “stuff”, it’s about the season and being together.
- Giving an experience is always a really thoughtful way to give people something that will last. Even if it is having someone over for hot chocolate or tea creates a memory.
- Give a gift of food; cookies, jam or glass jar of a bulk coffee or candy.
- Ask the people for a few things they really want. You may spoil the surprise just a bit but at least your gift would be a duplicate or end up as a white elephant gift.
- Give something hand made like soap from the farmers market, ethically traded products, a used item from a local thrift or charity shop (I find the best stuff brand new), a sustainably made product like a bamboo toothbrush or help someone transition to something zero waste like refillable compostable dental floss.
- Try a DIY project with your kids, roll some bees wax sheets in to candles or make some salt dough and have your littles make candle holders or an out dated ashtray.
- Become a secret Santa for a family in need. Helping people who need a little extra help is part of the season of giving.
- Give a donation in your friends and families names. Give a cow or even bees. Wham bam done!
- Remember if you have kids, the grandparents and friends L-O-V-E anything made by the littles. You can have them sign there name to a paint printed hand print on a piece of used cardboard and that is the gift that would be saved from a burning house, not the gravy boat you got them. Think easy, cute and creative for gifts from your kids.
- Avoid plastic and disposable single-use items like the plague, even things that take batteries.
- Reuse brown paper; crumple it up make it as wrinkly as possible (so it looks that way on purpose) use hemp twine or used fabric ribbon to wrap a gift.
- Scarves or fabric from the thrift store and wrap them Furoshiki style.
- Make fabric gift bags from old fabric like sheets, buy some all cotton or hemp from Etsy or Amazonhomemade. A pillow case does nicely for bigger items.
- No metallic gift wrap (non-recycleable) or tape if possible. Buy some old school paper tape instead.
- Send an e-card instead of sending a paper card. Saves the planet, you a stamp and some $.
- Scavenge, forage and scour your neighborhood for useful greens, pine cones, holly berries and branches. Bringing nature inside this time of year seems so delicious when it gets cold outside. Pine and cedar branches smell so fabulous add oranges poked with cloves and candles and the holiday has begun. Ask your neighbor before you take any greenery, no jail time during the holidays.
- Dry orange, lemon and lime slices in your oven to add a splash of color to a garland of popcorn and cranberries. And add it to your tree or hearth. You can even decorate a tree out side and feed the birds.
- Decorate your table with eatable stuffs like a pumpkin, squash or a bowl of citrus fruits. Throw on some holly boughs and some cedar cuttings and voila your table is glorious and ready for a magazine shoot.
- Oragami is a great way to add some stars to your life with a paper DIY tutorial. String them on some hemp cord or ribbon or add them to your potted Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush.
- Use your good stuff the china, crystal, real silverware and the nice cloth napkins, you know the ones that are still white. Using the nice stuff makes your table more memorable and special.
- Candles, candles, candles. They make any house feel warm and cozy. Hygge, Danish for a feeling of coziness, is big on candles and I think it is very appropriate way of thinking for the winter months. I buy my candles at thrift stores during the summer months. Just be safe and use common sense when using candles. NEVER LEAVE A FLAME UNATTENDED.
Food and Drink
- Get to know your bulk section. Often with a little planning and knowledge the food part of the holiday can be mastered when striving for a zw holiday.
- Create a plan and a menu. No plan will get you in trouble every time.
- Bring your cloth bags, jars and shopping totes ready to be filled.
- Find a local bakery for baked goodies, bread and rolls. They may just put them in your bags if you ask nicely. If not, ask for a paper bag or box.
- Try and source locally and keep you menu sustainable, local and if possible organic (this keep pesticides out of the environment)
- Buy your stocking stuffers in the bulk section. Chocolates, gummies, nuts, dried fruit can all be found in the bulk section.
- Fill beer growlers with a selection of beers.
- If you are lucky like me you have a local winery that has a bottle deposit return system, do it. I buy a returnable 1.5 liter bottle of white and red table wine for parties and holiday dinners. This winery goes to a lot of our local farmers markets so most days I can return a bottle and get a refilled bottle of liquid gold.
- Spice some apple cider for the kids and non- alcohol drinkers.
- Make mulled wine and hot chocolate, the real stuff NOT from cocoa powder (dark or milk in the bulk section).
By planning, trying to do less and make it simple your holiday can be a slower, fulfilling and happier holiday season for you and your loved ones. Happy Holidays.