I hope you enjoyed Part I of this series a few days ago.
My next tips are ones you can practice this season and maybe they will become habits you can take advantage of year-round!
1.) Carry a reusable water bottle! You gotta stay hydrated while pounding the pavement looking for gifts or enjoying family outings. Water fountains are abundant at shopping malls, and many fast-found restaurants will gladly fill your bottle when you go inside. *Insider’s Tip: it violates safe food handling requirements for many establishments, so if you opt for drive-thru, a business can’t take your bottle from you to refill it (by window). Plus, when ordering coffee, it’s a little awkward for you to order, pull around, give money AND give your cup for a drink to be made. Slows down the whole drive-thru point of their business.
I’ve never had a food or drink establishment reject filling my water bottle inside their business however, and in many coffee chains, you get a discount for using your own mug!
2.) Plan reusable for your holiday parties, or use a sustainably-made backup if you absolutely must use disposable products.
I’ve heard people talk about using paper plates as being more sustainable than “running all that water” to clean real dishes by hand. This is simply not true. With the average home kitchen sink and dishwasher, and using it responsibly (fill a sink with soapy water, run the rinse water on low, use the efficiency setting on your dishwasher, and even better, don’t use the heated dry option) – there is no way a single-use disposable resource stacks up to real dish use when serving your average home holiday party group number.
When planning holiday parties or attending them, ask your guests or host to bring a favorite holiday mug for beverages, or make this a party gift, then everyone has a cup for the occasion and to take home. Asking guests to bring their own “take-out” container is also a great move – you’ll use less plastic wrap, baggies and foil wrapping up leftover goodies.
If numbers or time constraints dictate you CAN’T live without single-use dishes, cups or silverware, do your best to find 100% recycled or compost-friendly wares. But buyer beware! There are many options of recycled/compostable/biodegradable products out there and depending on where you live, this will dictate how to responsibly get rid of it. Some items still need to be sorted into recycling after use, but others may “look” recyclable but are actually meant to be trashed and go to landfill. It’s a lot of work to find the details, which brings me back to my original point – just use the dishes and silverware and cups you already have! Plus, your wonderful guests will probably offer to help wash up. And if they don’t, you need to invite better people to your party next time:)
Any other ideas out there about “greening” your holiday season? These are simple changes, folks. Whether you try one of them or all of them, I truly believe in the difference small actions like these will make on the future of our environment and resources and I hope you’ll join me.
Cover photo credit: City of Garden Grove, CA