Sustainable living is as much a mindset as it is a way of life. Walking this out in your daily life is nowhere near as simple as we’d like it to be but it’s worth the effort. And in my book, an earnest effort, even if when it comes along with failure, is still valuable, but man, is it a doozy sometimes.
I learned this the hard way as I thoughtlessly grabbed a plastic-wrapped bag of holiday cookies to bring over to a friend’s house. I was on autopilot, zipping around from party to party, not giving enough thought, if any, to the trail of waste accumulating behind me.
Let’s be real: Avoiding plastic and waste is hard when you’re traveling. I’m not going to write articles on the topic and act like I’ve got it down or don’t make mistakes when, in actuality, I do. The Basic Goods exists for me and many others, as a sounding board to share our real-life experiences living consciously and mindfully in a fast-paced world. It’s here to encourage all of us (myself included) to pause, lean in and pay attention to the task at hand. Sometimes, many times, we fail. This Christmas, I did—pretty miserably, actually. So, I’m sharing that here along with a few sustainable solutions that will hopefully help you and me for the next time!
PROBLEM: GAS STATION SNACKS + TAKE OUT FOOD WASTE
During the holidays, my husband, pup and I were on the road for a week. With a Christmas party to attend nearly every day and night I started to lose focus, got tired and succumbed to picking up food on the road. Tiny plastic wrappers, non-recyclable containers and wasted food eventually piled up around me. Not my proudest moment for sure.
SOLUTION: MAKE-AHEAD MEALS
This could have been solved by simple make-ahead meals. For me, that would be
- Homemade trail mix purchased at the store with my favorite plastic-free bulk bags by Earth Junky
- Snacks packed up from home in a BPA-free glass container
- Pre-made salads (quinoa, couscous, grains or greens) eaten with Bamboo Travel Utensils
- These days, you could get arrested for buying a single-use plastic bottle, mainly by me, so don’t do it. It is SO easy to fill up your own and be prepared. Plus, the amount of beautiful products on the market that you could use instead really does make it a crime. So, fill up your reusable water bottle every change you get, ask the barista to fill your travel mug instead of a paper cup and make it your new normal, people.
PROBLEM: PLASTIC-WRAPPED EVERYTHING
Oof. Christmas is really just a wasteful time of year. Sorry, Christmas, that feels like heresy and I LOVE YOU but it’s true. I failed a lot. Secret Santas, gifts, food platters, last-minute shopping, etc. I fight tooth and nail to cut back in every way I can because sometimes you just don’t need all. that. ribbon. — hey, at least you can recycle tissue paper, right?
SOLUTION: BROWN PAPER, FABRIC SCRAPS, RECYCLED DECOR
When we can’t get our hands on recycled holiday wrapping paper, we use brown paper bags or recycled craft paper. Thankfully, brown craft paper comes in handy all year-round and lends itself to birthdays and holidays other than Christmas.
Salvage leftover ribbons, yarn and my favorite, twine, to make it look natural and beautiful. I’ve also had a lot of fun using old fabric scraps to tie around craft paper, too. Use greens from your tree as Christmas decor and check out this piece from TBG for inspo!
PROBLEM: ORDERING ONLINE + ONLY BUYING NEW
I’ll admit, we did pretty well here this Christmas. Did you know that more than half the money you spend on local businesses will stay local? That’s a big deal. It also means less of a carbon footprint because that product isn’t getting overnight shipped from far away. Yet, it happened and happens a lot. The amount of packaging and plastic-wrap these products come in just kills me when I know I could avoid all of that if I saw it and purchased it in the store. So, on to more of the solution…
SOLUTION: BUYING VINTAGE, HOMEMADE + SHOPPING LOCAL
I had an awesome time crafting candles, body butters, sewing felt ornaments and making chocolate for friends and family this year. This allowed me to control the amount of waste created because I saw it all the way through, from cradle to cradle and could wrap it in packaging I felt good about. Woo! Luckily, my people loved them. Winning.
My friends at Sojourn Shop are connoisseurs of vintage and you should check them out.
Also take a look at this holiday gift guide full of incredible brands that give back to some equally incredible makers, artisans, growers and people around the world. If you are going to shop online, these are the places to do it.
And that is it for now! Plenty more fails to share and lessons learned but I’ll save those for another time. Feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk more, I’d love to hear from you.
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