The holidays are a favorite time of year for many of us. Special coffee dates with visiting friends, parties galore, plenty of gift giving and receiving. One issue that stares me straight in the face and comes into sharp focus during the holidays, though, is trash.
Most of us are doing a little (err, a lot) more shopping as we approach December 25. It’s nearly impossible to make a purchase anywhere without amassing at least a little waste in the process, things that ultimately end up in the trash: receipts, paper and plastic shopping bags, plastic/paper/foil packaging on retail items, tissue paper…not to mention the layers of wrapping paper and ribbons we swaddle around each gift before placing it under the tree.
Some of these items can be recycled, and that’s always a good thing. And I’m certainly not here to demonize wrapping paper, or to suggest that we should all take steps to live a completely trash-free existence. (Not that it’s impossible… but it’s certainly an adventure undertaken by the honorable few.) However, with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch providing a little extra nudge, I think it’s worthwhile to step back and look carefully at a few areas where we can minimize the piles of paper and plastic amassed by this season of sharing and celebration.
1. Have your coffee for here. Savor your drink; sit down and stay a while. Even if you feel rushed to get to the next thing on your list, chances are you can afford to take five or ten extra minutes to relax and sip out of a real mug.
2. If you really need to run, invest in a reusable cup. We like the double-wall insulated Klean Kanteens and sleek glass KeepCups.
3. Repurpose your newspaper as gift wrap (the comic section provides some color), or even better, use lightweight cloth and real ribbon, which can be reused year after year.
4. Give homemade gifts. Handcrafted food items are both trendy and—more importantly—delicious. Caramels, cocoa mix, peanut brittle, home-canned jams and jellies, kahlua you make yourself with Higher Grounds coffee...can all be neatly contained in mason jars or reusable tins.
5. Bring your own bag. Avoid the mountain of shopping bags by keeping reusable bags tucked in your purse or in your car.
6. Ultimately, don’t stress. Christmastime is a season for joy and making merry. Take a deep breath, check that list twice, and go back to #1.