The winter holiday is right around the corner! Here are some ideas to help you carry your eco-friendly practices over into the season of shopping, giving, and spending time with friends and family.
First, as you get ready to be away from your office for a several days or more, don't forget to Power-Down!
- Completely shut down lights, computers, monitors & TVs, copy machines and other equipment
- Prevent "vampire energy" waste by unplugging power strips, coffee pots, microwaves and other small appliances
- Turn down thermostats to as low as 60 degrees if possible.
And now for that gift list ...
Do you have a friend or family member who is always talking about sustainability? That's great! But what's the perfect holiday gift for them that aligns with their values? Here are some ideas for eco-friendly gifts that aren't expensive or hard to find. You can save money and save the planet at the same time. Cross off all your holiday shopping items by getting your friends and family one of these great zero-waste gifts. Many can be found at locally sourced shops in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area, or in your hometowns.
Did you know that over 40 billion plastic utensils are produced each year and tossed away after only being used for a matter of minutes? A bamboo utensil set helps your friend turn away from throw-away culture by providing them with a reusable fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks. They durable, lightweight and affordable. Many times they come wrapped in a sleeve made from organic cotton or recycled plastic. Some have a carabiner so you can attach them easily to a lanyard or bag for easy access while on-the-go.
Americans use 500 million straws every day -- most of them plastic. Luckily, there is a reusable solution to disposable straws. Whether you're drinking smoothies, juice or iced coffee, stainless steel straws get the job done. And then you don't have to wrestle with the conundrum of where or how to throw them away! They are easy to clean with a suitable brush, or you can pop them into the dishwasher. Help your friends #skipthestraw and go plastic-free with their beverages.
Whether it's buying a head of lettuce, stowing groceries or packing a snack, plastic bags add up! Luckily, there are many alternatives to avoid needing yet another one. There are heavy duty grocery bags that fold away to fit into a backpack or pocket, reusable plastic bags that are dishwasher safe for daily snacks, and washable produce bags for fruits, veggies and bulk items at the grocery store.
Try a DIY project for a uniquely personal gift! Turn an old jar into a terrarium with a few small plants and stones or make a personalized card out of fun cut-outs from old magazines. Upcycling helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills by giving new life to old materials. Other ideas include baking a batch of cookies with seasonal ingredients or making a simple sugar scrub. For this peppermint recipe all you need is sugar, coconut oil, and peppermint essential oil or extract.
What do you give to a friend living a truly zero waste lifestyle? Rather than supporting consumerism and giving your friends more stuff to accumulate, you can opt to give the gift of an experience. A spa massage, a cooking class or tickets to a movie will please any minimalist and provide memories that last longer than the joy of material gifts.
By getting or making any one of these green gifts this holiday season, your friends and family members will be filled with joy as they embrace a more sustainable way of life. Just don’t forget to wrap thoughtfully. Either choose not to wrap at all, put the gift in a reusable grocery bag for two gifts in one, or use another material that you were about to toss out!