Our intern Theresa muses on the holiday season that just passed and offers tips on how to celebrate future holidays less wastefully...
Christmas is over so now we don't have to listen to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on loop anymore! But in all seriousness, now that we have entered the new year I have been thinking about ways to celebrate “better” next time (and I don't mean banning certain songs from people's playlists). I mean better for the environment, and better for everyone. This applies to all celebrations and holidays.
At Indosole we believe that whatever we do, it should not be a burden to the environment. So here are four things to keep in mind when planning the next birthday party, baby shower, housewarming or other celebration. If you choose to embrace some of these creative solutions, I promise you will have have a "better" (a.k.a. more responsible) time!
1. DIY your party decorations and favors
Wall decorations, party favors... it's fun to create a festive environment, right? There is nothing wrong with it as long as we stay away from buying plastic items whenever we can. Better yet, instead of buying, why not DIY? The web is full of DIY party decoration ideas and you can even find ones that incorporate recycling (think old magazines, old cans, wrapping paper from presents received, old clothes, and even wine corks).
Upcycled cans make great Cinco de Mayo decorations (via See Heard Known)
Try colorful glass straws too, like the ones in the top photo by Simply Straws. Not only do they add color to a table but everyone gets to avoid single-use plastic straws. You can even let your guests can take them home if you are feeling generous!
Another thing to keep in mind is electricity waste. Shut off those twinkle lights when nobody is around to enjoy them. At the end of the year, remember to apply the same rule to your winter wonderland decorations and tree (the US uses more electricity at Christmas than El Salvador, Ethiopia or Tanzania uses in an entire year. Can you believe that?!). If possible, try candles as an alternative to twinkle lights.
2. Find creative ways to wrap gifts
In the the UK, people go through enough wrapping paper at Christmas to circle the earth nine times. Americans spend $3.2 billion on wrapping paper each year (this includes Christmas and all holidays). That is a lot of money spent on paper that often times gets thrown out after a single use. To be fair, who among us can deny a beautifully wrapped gift? There is no point in abandoning the tradition, we just need to be better about it! Here are some creative options to try:
- Use colorful magazines or newspaper. It wouldn’t be too horrible to find your presents wrapped in a funny article or an edgy picture from a magazine, right? And for people who love to travel, show your passion by wrapping presents in maps or pages from old guidebooks -- extra personal!
- Use reusable wrapping. Ribbons do not have to be made of plastic. There are nice alternatives made of cotton or straw and the best thing about this is that they are reusable. Check out Lilywrap -- they provide ribbons and gift wrap made of stretchy material that you can reuse for every holiday.
- Use old fabric. Everyone has a bunch of old clothes in the closet. Why not cut them up and use them to wrap? Brownie points if you can create something reusable like Lilywrap. Seriously, solve the problem of old clothes taking up space in your closet by being crafty. The web is full of ideas for gift wrap alternatives so get inspired!
Zero waste cloth gift wrap (via Hippie In Disguise)
3. Ditch greeting cards... or make your own
Greeting cards have become less popular with the shift to digital, and let's be honest, when was the last time you got excited over an e-card? They just do not have the same effect as traditional cards. So why not go a different route and try a phone call, or a thoughtful email with photos? If you do decide to send something via snail mail, make it count. And don't forget about the option of DIY cards from leftover or recycled materials (a recurring theme here).
4. Choose sustainable brands when buying presents
Sometimes we have no idea what presents to get for our friends and family. With all the birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, etc. what can we gift to people that is special and does not add to the piles of stuff that people do not need?
Sustainable brands are great for unique and responsibly made gifts. They offer creative products that often have a story to tell. For example, shopping for your gift at Bureo helps reduce plastic fishnet pollution in the ocean and brings jobs to people in Chile. Buying Teeki's recycled PET plastic clothing also reduces pollution while Okiino lets you choose a deserving non-profit to donate to with your purchase (both yoga wear brands make their products in the USA).
Fashion conscious women would love something from Reformation and Everlane -- you can feel good about supporting these brands because the former is transparent about the environmental impact of each garment they make and the latter discloses the true cost of labor and materials for each product. If you are based in Europe, check out Twothirds and People Tree for sustainable and fair trade fashion.
There are so many interesting gift options out there for conscientious consumers! Step by step we can reduce the amount of waste we create, starting by mindfully planning our special occasions and applying the same mindset to our day-to-day routines.
How we get to parties: on our own steam and with Green Guru upcycled bike accessories.