The holiday season is fast approaching, and while it may feel necessary to tap into your consuming habits, we have some suggestions for you to go into the end of 2019 and to start off the new decade with a different mindset this time around!
Think about what you already have when it comes to the holidays. A lot of the time, we think we need to buy more decorations each year, but make sure and check out what you already have. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see you may not need another plastic wreath or more plastic decorations to cover your tree. Think simple. Use what you have. Borrow what you need. Use things from around the home to make new decorations. Use this cold weather as a time to be creative and crafty at home.
Renting holiday outfits
The environmental impact on renting clothes versus buying the fast-fashion counterpart are not studied in detail quite yet. However, here are my inputs when it comes to ordering from sustainable companies online. We have to monitor shipping and returns, types of cleaning used after each use, packaging used and the like are done consciously as well. This article by Elle magazine sums up my concerns pretty well! I do however have hope that renting is a huge step in the right direction. It’s training customers to rethink buying for every event they have, and resorting to reusing what’s already out there, which is great! The first most wasteful part of the fashion industry is the production process. So if we can produce less and re-wear more of what we have, that’s a huge advantage. And if we can continue to increase the demand of renting, perhaps we’ll also start to consider greener options within the shipping, cleaning and packaging realms. While production is the ‘dirtiest’ in terms of harmfulness to the environment, other aspects such as energy usage, transportation, recycling, and recycling issues need to be addressed as well. Check out these rental platforms below.
Vacation Local/Take comfort in relaxation and staying put
Okay this is selfishly mostly for myself, but I tend to get overwhelmed by FOMO over the holidays, thinking I need to travel here, visit there, do that, see this. Because I have the time off, naturally, it makes sense to put the holidays to use and travel. But sometimes, it’s best to relax, stay home, visit the family, and take comfort in relaxation. I’ve been practicing this on the weekends, taking time for myself to catch up on work, catch up on silly shows on Netflix, read a book, and do it all guilt-free. I talked about this in a recent IG post on @ondutycitizen about taking comfort in staying put and not making any plans. So if you’re thinking about a last minute trip but can’t decide (guilty!) think about the alternative, staying home with friends and family, in a new light and while it is important to live in the now, perhaps you could save up and use that money for two bigger trips the following year. Plus you’ll be reducing your travel on airplanes by staying local which we all know is much better for the environment and C02 emissions. :)
Here are some cool travel trips on the Good Trade. They list a lot of cool destinations close to home (if you’re up for it), or stay put and cozy up at home with a blanket, a candle and a good book!
Carbon offsetting is the act of purchasing carbon credits that will support companies and nonprofits that are working to cancel out C02 emissions either by sucking up the C02 (planting trees for example) or avoiding future emissions altogether by investing in clean energy technologies. There are a few arguments against offsetting, one being it doesn’t tackle the main issue of creating C02 emissions in the first place. Writer George Monbiot famously said: “Just as indulgences allowed the rich to feel better about sinful behavior without actually changing their ways, carbon offsets allow us to "buy complacency, political apathy and self-satisfaction". I personally use it not to exonerate myself, because beyond offsetting I really do try and be ‘green’ in many other aspects of my life. I use it to offset the travel I have to do for work, but I also do other things to combat climate change. With this balance, I think offsetting is okay. As long as we’re investing in other resources to tackle the climate crisis. It’s also important to make sure the company you’re investing in is legitimate. Here are a few of the top carbon offsetting companies below and this article has a great summary of the pros and cons of carbon offsetting.
Think about gifts that serve a purpose. Does the person you’re shopping for really need another Christmas card and scented candle? Or would they perhaps be more appreciative of a donation in their name? Here are some of our suggestions for ‘new age’ gifts. And if you buy something in physical form, think about how you’re going to wrap it, and get creative. We love the idea of using reusable wrapping paper, old fabric scraps, newspapers and reusing old cards by cutting out the side with writing and writing on the back of the clean side. There are a ton of ways to get creative that will not only help your wallet this holiday season but also help reduce the waste you create.
If you have a few things you need to buy this season, think before you buy. Think about its impact in your closet or the person you’re shopping for. Don’t buy on impulse. Imagine the piece in their home and think about the longevity of it. We often have to think about closet cleanses and spring cleans, so think about the absolute necessity of the purchase before you buy. Buying something isn’t bad per se, but shopping on an impulse may be!
Do your research before you buy.
On our site, we have curated a bunch of sustainable and ethical products from companies we believe in who are transparent about their business practices. Look to invest in companies who are open and honest about their production processes. For us, it’s better to invest in a company who acknowledges they’re not perfect but they’re trying to be better and who lists their goals for the near to far future.
Think used! Buying secondhand is one of the best things you can do. It alleviates the waste that ends up in the landfills and gives another life to clothes that are often in perfect condition. Here are some of our favorite used sites. Alternatively, you could shop at your local secondhand store. If you’re NYC based, Tokio 7 is a favorite of ours located in East Village.
Be smart about your sizes. A lot of the environmental harm from shopping online comes from returns and reorders. Make sure you measure your sizes, check out reviews to ensure you’re getting the perfect fit so you can avoid sending things back and forth.
From plastic baggies for food storage to saran wrap and disposable razors, there’s an alternative for that. Here are our favorite swaps that help alleviate the plastic use in your home, and quite frankly for me personally, all of these swaps work better than the former alternative!
Bee’s Wrap (a personal favorite, great gift suggestion!) -saran wrap alternative
Stasher bags- eco-friendly Tupperware/plastic baggie alternative
Heavy duty tote bags for groceries- plastic bag alternative
Reusable coffee mugs- to-go coffee shop cup replacement
Stainless steel razor- plastic razor substitute
Reusable water bottles - alternative for plastic bottle
Cotton facial rounds reusable (another personal favorite)- disposable rounds
Shampoo bars- shampoo in plastic bottle substitute
Visit the farmer’s market
I try and shop organic as much as is possible, but sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that even the ‘healthy’ stuff is wrapped in plastic, some which seems entirely unnecessary. One benefit of shopping at your local farmer’s market is it’s a lot easier to reduce the amount of plastic you’re purchasing. You can bring your own bags, put things straight from the crates into your reusables without having to think about wrapping anything in plastic. A lot of the time, the markets will have paper on site too if you absolutely need to wrap something up.
In addition, most of the stuff you’ll find at the market is local and in season. This helps alleviate the carbon used when food has to travel from far away. And if you think logically about it, it really doesn’t make sense to consume things that aren’t growing seasonally in your region. For thousands of years before us, hunters, gatherers and even our ancestors solely survived on what was in season at the moment. Let’s get back to basics.
If you need some more insight on why to shop local, check out this article. They sum it up quite easily.
Hosting lots? Keep your home sparkling with home made cleaners
Hosting over the holidays can require a lot of cleaning. And while it may feel necessary to break out the bleach spray that smells and feels like you’re killing all the bacteria in sight, you may want to think twice about using them as they can actually be harmful to your health. Here are a few of our favorite recipes below for your own air fresheners, bathroom and everyday cleaners using just a few household ingredients. Easy and effective! For more options, check out this article by Good On You.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this. I hope you collected some ideas to change up your approach to the holiday season. Believe me, I know a lot of this is easier said than done, but if we can take one small step at a time, have discussions about climate change and what we can all do to be better, we’ll inspire our friends followers and families to follow our lead. A lot of the imperative change we need is from the high ups, our government, our state officials, our president. So while it’s just as (if not more) important to get political, these are the small steps you can take this holiday season to positively change your sometimes unhealthy habits.