If you're trying to transition to a low or zero waste lifestyle, you may be worried about sticking to your principles this holiday season. There can be an abundance of waste when families get together to share a meal or exchange gifts, and you may be feeling under pressure to conform to family traditions that don't really align with your current life choices. However, there are simple things you can do to cut out single use items and unnecessary packaging during the holidays without adding to the stress you may already be experiencing at this time of year.
Decorate by Upcycling What You Have
Seasonal decorations are often made of plastic and poorly put together, which makes them easy to break and not particularly cost-effective. Ditch the plastic, shiny foil and flimsy paper garlands in favor of using what you have on hand. You could upcycle glass jars into lanterns with twine or seasonal ribbon tied around the rim for hanging them up, and you could also make your own wreaths or mantle decorations by collecting pine cones and evergreen branches when you go for a walk. Greenery can be tied together with twine or willow and left looking natural or painted to incorporate seasonal colors. Additionally, old cards can be cut out and hung like baubles, or you could raid your baking cupboard and make some salt dough decorations. Once you really start to look around your home and garden you may be surprised at just how many ways there are to transform odds and ends into something beautiful.
Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
Buying wrapping paper is terribly wasteful, as it tends to get ripped from the gift it's concealing and cannot be reused. Instead of buying and using more paper, look at what you already have at home. Pages from an old book can be made to look like vintage wrapping paper by lightly brushing them with weak black tea and allowing them to dry naturally. This gives paper an aged look, and works particularly well with music sheets. If you have children, consider keeping some of their coloring pages to wrap gifts for family members who may appreciate the personal touch. Additionally, you can flatten and reuse brown paper from inside delivery boxes and spruce the sheets up by pressing flowers onto them or cutting out a seasonal template and painting it onto the paper.
Menu Plan to Avoid Food Waste
It's easy to buy too much food during the holidays. There are lots of seasonal treats lining the shelves of every store and you want to make sure you have enough food to feed unexpected guests, so lots of extras find their way into your cart and are often forgotten about in the back of the refrigerator or cupboard. Instead of winging your holiday season shopping trips, take half an hour to make a weekly meal plan that allows for some fun treats and keeps you from buying too many perishable items, such as fresh produce and deli items. If you're new to menu planning, there are several online meal calculators that tell you how much of each menu item to buy for the number of people you are feeding. This keeps costs and waste down, and you can relax knowing your kitchen is fully stocked with everything you need for the meals you want to make.
These are just a few ways you can reduce waste without expending much effort. When making your plans for the holiday season, consider what easy changes you could make to reduce waste without compromising on fun.