- Reusable straws (with scrub brush): they come in stainless steel, silicon, glass, or bamboo
- Rechargeable batteries with a charger. Solar options are available too.
- Swedish dishcloths: get several for different household uses. Also makes a great house gift.
- Set of cloth napkins: for meals at home or to take along with lunch.
- Bamboo utensil set: comes in a holder that clips to a backpack. Great for the student in your life!
- Reusable shopping bags: many stores and organizations sell them
- Set of cloth reusable gift bags: make them yourself out of fun fabric scraps
- Waxed cotton food wraps: they come in lots of fun designs.
Use this time of gift giving to encourage the use of reusable items instead of their disposable, single-use counterparts. Invest in durable items that will last a long time. You can find lots of examples in past aFewSteps green tips:
Instead of buying gifts new, gift shop in your house and give unused or gently used items
We all have stuff lying around our houses that we never used or used very little. Vases, decorative bowls, pitchers, picture frames, clocks may have collected a little dust but may otherwise be in great shape, maybe even still look new. Consider the friends and family you shop for – maybe you know someone would love to have that item and would get more use out of it than you have been getting. This holiday season, reduce your purchases of new things by making an agreement with like-minded friends and family members with whom you exchange gifts to go shopping in your house. Find appreciative new homes for things you don’t need and give thoughtful gifts without using extra resources.
Photo by Ravi Shah, Flickr
Reduce food waste during the holidays: plan post-holiday menus to use up leftover meals and ingredients
It can be hard to estimate how much food to prepare for your holiday gathering. Earth911.com estimates that 30-40% of the food grown in the U.S. is wasted. That means that you might end up with leftover dishes and unused ingredients. After the evening of the big dinner, plan catch-up meals to use up that extra food. Serve turkey salad on dinner roles for lunch. Make dishes that use the ingredients you have on hand; for example, cooked meats and vegetables can be mixed into a casserole. Lightly steam leftover fresh vegetables and toss with pesto over pasta. Don’t forget to put reusable containers on your holiday shopping list so you can send some of the leftovers home with your guests.
Photo by AVID Vines, Flickr
Plastic bags and curbside recycling don’t mix! Both plastic bags used to contain recyclables and those that are tossed into recycling bins are problematic for recyclers.
Single-stream curbside programs rely on mechanical sorting of recyclables. The business model for recyclers depends, in turn, on keeping the machinery running efficiently. Plastic bags slow things down in two ways:
Most supermarkets collect plastic bags for recycling, so returning them to the store where you got them is a good option. Alternatively, try to cut down on the number of plastic bags you use in the first place. When running errands, take along a reusable shopping bag instead!