0021. A merry + green holiday season
It's no surprise that the holiday season is one of the most wasteful times of the year.
Gifts and all the trimmings, sales that encourage overconsumption and buying because who can resist a good deal, large gatherings and parties that usually end up with trash cans full of disposables - ay ya yai.
To be very clear - I'm no grinch. I love the holidays and with a little creativity and intentional planning we can celebrate and spread cheer in a sustainable way.
As the blog name suggests, I love trash. Okay, not real trash, but I'm known to stash all sorts of things that others would happily throw away - to me it's a free material that is way better off repurposed. If I encounter a paper bag I save it for wrapping gifts - draw a design or pattern and create a personalized, recyclable gift wrap (be wary of glitter which makes paper not-recyclable). A bandana makes for a beautiful wrap job and doubles as a gift too. Have fun with it and get creative!
+ Shop local.
The other night in conversation with friends this statement was made: Jeff Bezos is literally the richest man on earth and nobody seems to care that he basically uses slave labor. Upon further research I was horrified - the human toll of delivery services is disturbing (Amazon specific stories can be found here). For me, part of living sustainably is making sure that my actions match my values and where I spend my money is a very big part of that. Choose small, local businesses - not only are you supporting your local economy, you are reducing the footprint of your gifts and saying something about how you expect the companies you support to behave.
+ (Re)consider the waste.
It’s not necessary to waste resources in order to get festive. What can you do without while still being merry? In NYC we would get a branch that was discarded from tree vendors and put it in a jar - it was the perfect amount of cheer. We could still enjoy the smell and hang little ornaments that we enjoyed for a few weeks before heading separate ways to be with our families. If you do get a tree, make sure you're using LED lights and dispose of it responsibly, there's no need for it to end up in a landfill when it can be used for mulch.
+ Give waste free gifts.
Do we need more things? As someone who got rid of a lot of stuff already and could continue, I think we could all do with less stuff. Consumables and experiences are sustainable gifts that (in my opinion) are so much more enjoyable. Last year AB's brother and his wife gifted us tickets to the Holiday Train Show - we probably never would have bought tickets ourselves and it was a very cool, wonderful date. Some items I’ll be gifting: jam, honey, a memory stick with multiple CDs, rosehip oil, beeswax candles, homemade lotions and scrubs (secondhand or up-cycled jars are the perfect vessels to store these in).
One of the most common gifts I’ve given AB are coupons for future dates, but he totally outdid me recently. For my birthday he wrote me the sweetest cards. Each had a cute picture and a haiku he had written - I will keep them forever and it was the best gift I’ve ever received. What makes gifts special is when you can feel the effort the person made to let you know they love you and that doesn’t need to be a purchased, physical object. What could be better than spending quality time with someone you love? Since I’ll be with my family I plan on hiding little messages for him in his room for Christmas.
+ Volunteer or make a donation.
It’s a time of giving - consider making a donation in someone’s name or spend time with your family helping others. The impact and joy from these actions will live on way past the holidays.
+ Remember what's important.
My family hasn't really been big on gifts since we all became adults and honestly I like it that way - what I love most about the holidays is being with them. We eat, we laugh, we argue, we walk - it's all part of what makes us a family and I wouldn't trade it for any other place in the world.
How are you staying green this holiday season? Any creative gift ideas?