It’s really funny how things work out – while working on one of my previous blogspots regarding Zero-Waste Household from Qatar, The Al-Sulaiti family shared with me one of their inspirations, the book “Waste Not by Erin Rhoads.”
Many of us are overwhelmed by the idea of zero-waste, and I was extremely thrilled to know there is a book out there to help us with tips, advice and ideas to make small changes in our lives one-step-at-a-time!
Erin Rhoads wrote this book in a very engaging manner, because as I read it, I treat it as a conversation which makes it more exciting than just a simple, and informative book. Considering we’re fast approaching Christmas and soon, 2019…I thought why not share some festive and fun approaches I came across to decrease our waste and reduce our carbon footprint!
“Fact: In the US, household waste increases by an extra 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas– Erin Rhoads, Waste Not (P172)
‘Tis the season of Giving, Joy and Happiness! We can also give back to our wonderful home, our planet 🙂
Make a Change ’tis season!
Creative Invites and Holiday Greetings
Typical Christmas and New Years culture usually includes us designing lovely and colourful, festive greeting cards to send to our friends, family and loved ones. However, have we ever thought of how much waste this can lead to?
In our age of technology, it can be even easier to design your invites and greeting cards online, via email or even a quick & personalized phone call.
But let’s be real, we obviously still want to stick to some traditions but there are greener ways. Erin Rhoads provides us some valuable insight into some alternatives:
- Buying your paper from speciality paper stores that sell recycled papers or can even source them for you (Communication is key of your requirements, we need to speak up!)
- Do we really need glitter and ribbons? Maybe we can find those printed with soy or vegetable inks on recycled paper!
There are many ways to go low-waste when cooking as well, but in all honesty, I’m not a cook! I advice you to look through Food + Drink Section in Erin Rhoads book, Waste Not, to find ways to reduce your bottle usage and even recipes to reduce your waste!
Setting the Table for your dinners
Plastic is a thing of the past, completely, and if it isn’t for your household, then it should be! Not only does plastic-free cutlery and so on decrease waste, it also decreases your costs & makes for a more home-y and warm atmosphere. Thank you, once again, Erin Rhoads, for sharing some ideas with your readers and the world – here something’s I found very easy and resourceful to pursue in our personal lives:
- We can always find cheaper, second-hand glassware that are in great condition for our dinners (Reuse, Reuse, Reuse)
- Guests can bring their own tableware – Erin Rhoads says it best, ‘Why not organize a fun challenge by setting a ‘crazy glass’ theme that need to be sourced from a second-hand store!’ (P178)
- Paper or bamboo plates! These can even be disposed properly in a compost because of the residual remains. Add small compost bins at your parties – it just takes only a small area in your kitchen while helping raise awareness to all your guests – ideas for composting can also be found in previous blogposts (Zero-Waste Household & from Rashmi Aradhya)
- No need for straws – before straws were invented, we clearly had no issue, but we just got lazy and fussy!
- Don’t follow the whole Bioplastic or Biodegradable train – These are just words that are misleading to us as consumers, as we perceive it to be environmentally friendly – however, these materials only break down into smaller pieces of plastic which is still very harmful to our environment and species!
Tips to Decorate your home
A lot of the times, we decorate our homes with balloons, banners and decorations that use paper. There are many ways we can tastefully decorate our homes while still striving for a low-waste Christmas dinner.
- Use flowers as natural decorations – however, when you’re purchasing flowers from a florist, be mindful to ask about the flowers you are about to buy – are they imported? are they locally grown? Why not appreciate what we locally produce and grow? Why do we have to have things that are foreign to our climate and nature?
- We all strive to save money over the year, but when it comes to Christmas, we tell ourselves, it’s okay, it just happens once a year! But without this excuse, we can always shop at second-hand stores, thrift shops and buying from local stores. There are so many items that are almost new or are in excellent condition which we overlook just because our mental block states we must buy something new.
Low-Waste Gift Ideas
We tend to give lavish gifts to people, or gifts that we think are the new in-thing, but we should question ourselves when purchasing or even when expecting a gift – is this something we really need? Was it ethically made? At the end of the life of the gift, can it be recycled or disposed off in an appropriate manner? Erin Rhoads, who I truly admire for sharing her ideas, provides some amazing ideas for gifts which focus on gifts taking the shape of an experience rather than being materialistic
- Movie, Theatre, Sporting or Concert tickets
- Gift cards of all sorts
- Yoga pass
- Weekend getaway
- Driving range or mini golf
- Cooking class
- Plants and seeds
- Donation to a charity on their behalf
Of course, as Rhoads highlights, “the least wasteful way to present a gift would be to simply hide it, unwrapped, behind your back before giving, but some of us enjoy watching our recipients thrill in the unwrapping of a gift.” (P183) – Please think and be mindful of the amount of plastic tape we use to wrap our gifts and ask yourself, is this low-waste and disposed off properly? No, it isn’t, plastic tape also ends up in our landfills and piles onto our plastic pollution problem!
Some ways Rhoads highlights as ideas include:
- Old magazines, newspapers
- Foraged leaves make cute gift tags or even table settings
- Reusable cloth bags made from excess fabric (Check out the Zero-Waste Household post from Qatar on how they, children as young as 11, create their own bags
- One of the cool DIY aspects that stuck out to me was Furoshiki – Check out the image below!
What can we learn?
There are many ways that we can help make a difference, it doesn’t have to be only at work, or only when volunteering. We can make small differences even at festive events like Christmas, to really care for the planet that is allowing us to live the lives we are living, and celebrating such a joyous occasion!
We need to be mindful of how the things we buy are sourced, whether we really need it and what happens to everything after we purchase it. Can we make some of the things ourselves? Doesn’t it feel even better and satisfying when you, yourself, make something from scratch?
Through such events that you are organizing, you can help raise so much awareness of how much we need to care for our planet and how ignorant and careless, we as a population, have been. Let’s also give back to our beautiful planet that makes our lives as comfortable as they are.
These tips and tricks can be used by offices and workplaces organizing Christmas dinners as well, which makes it that much more rewarding!
We can all make small changes like these and help save our planet, one step at a time! Books like Waste Not have so many more ideas that can help us continue our journey to achieve a low-waste lifestyle – I sincerely advice you all to consider reading this book to take small steps to help our world and future generations!
Merry Low-Waste-Mas (Christmas) to you all!
Reference behind blogpost: Waste Not by Elizabeth Rhoads, Pages 171-196