Making A More Sustainable Holiday Season
The holidays are quickly approaching and the shopping frenzy makes it hard to to be aware of the waste that’s involved with the season. Creating a more sustainable holiday is something we can all do with a very small effort. Here are some ideas to gift with meaning, purpose, and without the plastic!
1. Be Practical
Gift items that people are likely to use daily. Eco-friendly and reusable items are even better to support the planet and to help encourage sustainable daily habits. Reusable travel coffee mugs (stainless steel / bamboo)
Reusable water bottles (stainless steel / glass)
Canvas tote bags and maybe even produce bags
Bar soaps and shampoo bars are not only practical, there is a beautiful selection too
Kitchenware such as bamboo utensils or cast-iron pans
There are many more environmentally-friendly and package-free swaps that are available, it depends on who you are gifting and what they would appreciate most. Last year, I kid you not, my sister and I gifted each other soap nuts!
2. Be Creative
Bake cookies, write a poem, knit a scarf, make a photo collage, share a playlist, make bath salts, flavored vodka, or put together a recipe card collection of your favorite recipes… homemade gifts are literally one-of-a-kind. You can even gift your service. One year my 8-year old son gave me a “free chores” booklet to me (best gift ever!)
You know those beautiful gifts you received a few years ago, but never even took it out of the box? There’s no harm in re-gifting these items (as long as they’re not to the person who gave it to you in the first place, haha) and I’m sure that if you re-organize your home, you’ll also find items that are perfectly giftable. It’s the same as buying items on ebay or in secondhand shops, which are also good options for looking for gifts too.
4. Give Experiences
Movie/show tickets, a class, a beauty treatment, park passes, memberships… these experiences are meaningful, personal, and come without packaging. Alternatively give virtual gifts like donating to a charity a person supports, or movies, ebooks or physical books (the latter two both available for Living Without Plastic, see #6 below).
5. Shop Consciously
How you purchase, make or present your gift can be considered too. After all, it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Ideally it’s better to shop at a bricks-and-mortar store, rather than shopping online. This way you can at least bring your own bag, and not be stuck with bubble wrap and other packing materials. There are online shops that don’t ship with plastic packaging like lifewithoutplastic.com and packagefreeshop.com, which are also great resources.
For clothing items, shop organic and fair trade. Many fabrics are blends of natural and synthetic compounds. Each time you wash a garment with nylon, polyester, lycra, spandex, fleece, and acrylic, millions of microplastic fibers are released into the water. These particles are too small to be filtered out in waste treatment centers and end up in the ocean. Use natural fibers as much as it possible like 100% organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo.
Skip the gift wrap, especially foil or glitter-decorated paper. Did you know glitter is plastic? Baskets, jars, tins, and fabric (like a bandana, scarf, or pillowcase) are reusable alternatives that are gifts themselves. The Japanese art of furoshiki uses fabric that is folded and tied for a beautiful wrapping.
6. Buy the Living Without Plastic
Living Without Plastic is the newest book from Plastic Oceans International, written by renowned foodie and chef, Christine Wong, and longtime sustainability pro, Brigette Allen. It offers over 100 creative and stylish ways to reduce your plastic footprint. “An eye-opening guide on how to lessen one’s dependence on plastics.” – Publishers Weekly. It can be your FREE gift when you DONATE today! OR visit Christine Wong’s website to buy a signed copy HERE.
I have come to realize that we don’t “need” many material things to make this a more sustainable holiday and festive season. What’s most valuable is the quality time spent together with those you love. Happy Holidays!
Top photo: @zero.waste.collective
Christine Wong is a NYC healthy chef, content creator, and founder of Yommme and @conscious_cooking, platforms that celebrate the beauty of plant-based eating and plastic-free cooking. She is the author of the Plantiful Plate and the just-release Living Without Plastic.