Holidays in the western world are tied very closely with excessive waste, consumerism, and a single-use mindset. Some staggering statistics from the CDC:
- Americans throw away about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve than throughout the rest of the year.
- If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
- About 35% of Americans have an unused Holiday present collecting dust in their closets.
Although it seems like these traditions are what make the Holidays special, the truth is, most of these Holidays have their foundations in traditions and values that are so much more than the spin capitalism has put on them. Through our disassociation of the Holidays with a single use lifestyle, we can enjoy the best parts of these holidays: quality time with loved ones, sharing delicious food, gift giving, and taking time to reflect on the past year as we enter a new one!
We urge you to take time this year to re-evaluate your Holiday and maybe even question some of the tendencies you have when shopping for gifts or decorating your home. We have provided some alternatives that will awaken your creativity and allow you appreciate these holidays for what they are really about!
- Use dried fruit as a decoration! Apple rings or Pineapple rings are great options to spice up your tree or hang in front of a window. Simply run some twine or ribbon through the dried fruit and tie a knot around it so that they are equally spaced apart.
- If you have a synthetic tree that you've been using for years, use that! However if you buy real, find one that is pesticide free and be sure to compost it when January rolls around.
- So many beautiful fruits are in season! Pomegranates, cranberries, and squash all make great table decorations and then can be enjoyed in a meal after!
- Use LED lights to decorate your home or tree. They consume 80% less energy and last 25% longer than conventional lights.
Green Gift Giving
- Better than buying recycled wrapping paper is to save boxes, tissue paper, and old packaging materials to reuse for wrapping gifts. Or even make the wrapping material part of the gift by using a reusable bag or nice dish towels.
- When you do buy gifts for loved ones, support small businesses and fair trade products.
- Make a homemade gift! It's fun and will mean so much more to the recipient if they know you spent time and energy making their gift.
- Give low waste gifts. This is a great way to lower waste while also serving as an educational opportunity and introduction to the world of sustainable living to the recipient. Gifts like a reusable metal straw or an on-the-go cutlery set can open the door of sustainability for loved ones and give them the introduction they need!
- Make a baked good for a loved one! (extra fun to see if they notice it's gluten-free or vegan!)
- Buy someone good quality olive oil or coconut oil to cook with
- Gift a cookie in a jar (using an upcycled Sun & Swell Jar!)
- Give an experience! This is a great way to carve out some quality time and this one is definitely package-free!
- Donate to a charity in someone's name
- Create an herb garden in upcycled containers that someone can put in their windowsill. A gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
Festive & Fun Holiday Activities
- Go for a walk and pick up trash
- Donate time or resources to a local animal shelter, homeless shelter or cause of your choice
- DIY Wreath (succulent, ribbon, or pine). Buy a wire frame and fill it with the material of your choice!
- Make popcorn garland
- Offset the carbon emissions from cutting down your Christmas tree!
- Decorate your Covid mask with Holiday decor to bring festivity wherever you go
- Zoom party! This can be a perfect time to catch up with loved ones! It could be a cooking tutorial where you show them how to make a Sun & Swell Recipe or have a trivia night.
- Create a gratitude journal and write something you're grateful for everyday in December.
- Leave no food waste! Use all parts of your Holiday cooking. Leftover turkey soup, sandwiches, bone broth, turkey stock. Get creative & compost any food waste you can't finish.
For the next few weeks will we be diving deeper into specific DIY gift and sustainable Holiday ideas. Stay tuned on the Sun and Swell Blog to learn more!