Zero Waste | Winter Holidays

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

The Holiday Season is one of my favorite times of year... Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years... in our family we go all out when celebrating every single one! However, it was only recently that I started thinking about how much we, as a society, consume and waste during these celebrations. Then I looked into it a bit and found out that it is so much worse than I imagined. The average American throws out 25% more trash from Thanksgiving - New Years which is equivalent to just about an extra one million tons of waste per week. The amount of ribbon used could wrap around our planet! Below are some ideas on how to minimize waste this holiday season. No one is perfect and it can be incredibly intimidating to think about going completely zero waste. However, even if everyone just committed to a few of the ideas from the list below it would make a difference! D E C O R Energy Efficient LED Holiday Lights - LED lights use anywhere from 50-75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Also, no matter which lights to use, be sure to turn them off any time you leave the room (or home) to save even more energy. Quality - Be sure to choose quality over quantity when shopping for decor. Purchase items that you truly love and will use year after year. Ditch any disposable decor! DIY - There are many ways to decorate using materials you already have in (and around) your home. I remember making garland out of popcorn and cranberries as a kid, and being asked to go scrounge around the yard for pine cones! There are so many things you can do with up-cycled fabric and sweaters too! If you're on Pinterest check out our Holiday Decor board for more ideas. We especially love this compostable eucalyptus wreath, so beautiful! Second Hand - Many thrift stores have loads of holiday decor out this time of year. If you're local to Iowa City, try Houseworks or Crowded Closet. They both have a great selection of Christmas items.

G I F T W R A P Did you know, the amount of wrapping paper used each year in the United States could cover almost 6 THOUSAND football fields? In the US alone wrapping paper accounts for millions of tons of trash EACH YEAR. 😞 Most of the wrapping paper sold in stores can not be recycled due to dyes and other additives. Below are some more sustainable options for wrapping your gifts!

Newspaper - If you still have a paper delivered, start saving it for the holidays! You can dress it up with old ribbons or fabric scraps.

Re-purposed Packaging - When purchasing products throughout the year be sure to save any reusable packaging items that come with (brown paper, tissue, ribbons, kraft boxes, tins, drawstring bags, etc). Also be sure to save any bags or boxes that have been gifted to you that are still in good condition. The same can be done for birthdays too!

Fabric - Instead of bags, purchase reusable fabric totes for your gifts! In Japan they use a fabric wrapping method called "furoshiki". You can find a great tutorial here. If you don't have old fabric laying around, check thrift stores before you purchase new.

Kraft Wrapping Paper - A recyclable option close to the original. You can dress it up with twine and greenery.

If you want a more festive alternative closer to traditional wrapping paper, check out Wrappily. Their gift wrap is made out of recycled newsprint and can be recycled or composted.

Zero Waste Gift Wrap


Tableware - I know no one wants to cook all day and then also clean up dishes from all their guests. If you don't wish to use your glass tableware, make sure to shop for biodegradable, compostable and bamboo options over disposables. Here is a set with great reviews! Tablecloths - Splurge on fabric tablecloths that can be used year after year instead of vinyl or plastic. Carpool - If you have room in your vehicle, offer to pick up a relative on your way to Christmas at Grandmas! Food - When prepping to cook for your guests, shop your local Farmers Market and buy ingredients in bulk to eliminate waste. Drinks - Nix the single serve drinks and opt for more sustainable (and affordable) options like punch, tea, or lemonade! This one looks tasty! G I F T I N G Purchase Less - Gift experiences (museums, movies, tickets to shows, vacations, etc.) Gift your time and talents (coupon for a photo session, paint a canvas, build something!) Push for exchanges at family gatherings so each person only has to gift one gift (this will save your wallet too!) Purchase Second Hand - Shop at local thrift shops, antique stores, Facebook marketplace, and / or Ebay! Poshmark is another good option for vintage finds. Handmade Gifts - There are tons of DIY gift ideas online. Some things I will be doing this year include sugar scrubs, body butters, bath salts, and homemade candles! If you're good at any handicrafts (sewing, crocheting, knitting) the possibilities are even more vast. Shop Local - One of my favorite things about the holiday season is all the awesome craft and vendor shows hosted throughout! Check out this one on the 14th here in Iowa City. We also have so many locally owned shops with great finds in the area... We will be doing a whole post on shopping in the corridor very soon! Make Ethical Purchases - When all else fails, try to make Ethical Purchases; organic, fair trade, plastic free, and/or sustainable. Again if you're local to the Corridor, Crowded Closet has a great little fair trade marketplace at their store! Holiday Cards - If you're ordering Holiday cards this year, consider using Paper Culture! They use 100% sustainable products (from recycled paper to bamboo) and they plant a tree for every order! They are having a 40% off sale through the 29th of November. Well, that's all for now! I hope you've gotten some new sustainable ideas for your Holiday celebration! - Riley + Darian

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