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Reflections and Renewal: Eco-Friendly Practices for the Year’s End

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As we near the end of the year and the holiday season, it’s important to reflect on our environmental impact and renew our commitment to sustainability. Instead of sustainable gift guides, I want to explore eco-friendly practices for December and beyond, including reflecting on our progress, setting goals for the upcoming year, and reducing waste during the holiday season.

Reflecting on the Past Year

Reflecting on our environmental impact is an important step towards sustainability. Take time to review the progress made in adopting eco-friendly habits throughout the year and consider personal achievements and lessons learned. Use this reflection to set realistic and achievable goals for the upcoming year. I’ve listed a few of my own reflections below.

Green Milestones

  • Shifting my focus to systemic changes. Individual changes are important, but if we’re going to change things then we have to think BIGGER! You can learn all about the Zero Waste Changes I made in 2023!
  • Volunteerism and Mutual Aid.
  • Unbanked from Dirty Banks (Banks that Support Climate Change). Join a Credit Union Today!
  • Buying more from local and small businesses!

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t give up on Minimalism! It’s environmentally, emotionally, and mentally beneficial.
  • I am slowly but surely becoming a better gardener!
  • Just keep trying and keep learning new things.
  • It’s ok to take a stand that makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes speaking truth is uncomfortable!

Renewing Environmental Commitments

Renewing our commitment to the environment involves setting goals for the upcoming year, identifying areas for improvement, and adopting new sustainability practices. The biggest individual action you can take is tackling your food waste! “If global food waste was a country,” it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States. You can learn about lowering your food waste without composting here! The second biggest action you can take is energy efficiency. You can learn all about lowering your individual household emissions here!

Most importantly, as I mentioned above, we need to go beyond individual actions and think about systemic and community actions. In his 2009 essay, “Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change,” environmentalist Derrick Jensen explained that even if EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the United States was zero waste it wouldn’t make a dent on the catastrophic effects of climate change. Emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide. So what should we do? Give up? No. 

Just a side note: The US military produces more greenhouse gas emissions than Sweden AND Denmark. “The United States’ Military is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world.”

Current Habits

Goals for Upcoming Year

Eating processed food.

Cooking from scratch with fresh farm food for a healthier life and better environment.

Over focused on individual actions.

Refocus on educating others about systemic solutions and activism towards industrial polluters and political systems. 

Focused exclusively on renewable energy.

Renewable energy is great, but we need to talk about other energy sources like nuclear power and double down on energy efficiency. 

Eco-Friendly Holiday Traditions & Gifts

One of my favorite holiday traditions comes from Iceland called Jolabokaflod, which involves drinking hot chocolate, gifting books on Christmas Eve, and reading. Honestly, this sounds like a perfect Christmas to me. We have several Christmas traditions with my family, which primarily center on EXPERIENCES, not things. If you do partake in gift giving here are some of my absolute favorite low waste gifts. Exploring environmentally-friendly alternatives to common holiday practices can reduce waste and promote sustainability.

Laga Fire Zero-Waste Fire Starters for Fireplace, Fire Pits, Fire Rings, Solo Stove or Bonfires • Natural + Eco-Friendly • Box of 9

Lomi Composter – World’s First Electric Kitchen Composter | Turn Waste into Natural Fertilizer with a Single Button with Lomi Classic, The Smart Waste.

The Zero-Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet: A Cookbook

 

Reducing Waste During the Holiday Season

During holiday festivities, there’s often a significant increase in waste. By implementing simple practices, such as reducing food waste and using reusable alternatives, we can minimize our environmental impact. Consider using sustainable packaging options and waste reduction tips for gift wrapping.

General Waste Reduction

– Consider giving experiences, digital gifts, or consumables to minimize physical items.

– Choose gifts with minimal packaging.

– Support local businesses and artisans for unique, sustainable gifts.

– Use natural decorations like pinecones, evergreen branches, or dried fruits.

– Invest in reusable decorations that can be used for years.

– Make a list before shopping to avoid impulse purchases.

Sustainable Packaging

– Use recycled or compostable wrapping paper or gift bags.

– Avoid glossy or metallic wrapping paper, as it may not be recyclable.

– Use reusable gift wrap, such as cloth, scarves, or decorative boxes.

Food Waste Reduction Tips

– Plan creative recipes to repurpose leftovers into new meals.

– Compost food scraps and vegetable cuttings.

– Consider portion sizes to avoid overcooking.

– Choose “ugly” produce to prevent it from being discarded due to cosmetic imperfections.

– Citrus peels, cinnamon sticks, and herbs can add both fragrance and flair.

– Opt for batch cooking when possible to minimize energy use.

 

Mindful Consumption: Navigating Sales and Deals with Sustainability in Mind

As consumerism increases during holiday season, it’s important to be mindful of the environmental impact of our purchases. Look for deals on sustainable products and reduce waste by purchasing items that are built to last. If buying new products, consider donating old items or recycling them properly.

Sustainable Products

Look for eco-friendly products, such as reusable bags and water bottles, on sale here.

Donation

Donate old items to local charities or organizations.

– Here’s what you should toss today.

– Learn where to donate your used clothing here.

Recycling

Recycle old items that cannot be donated. Find local recycling centers.

– Learn how to recycle clothing here.

– Learn all about recycling here.

Conclusion

As we approach the culmination of the year and the festive season, it’s important to assess and recommit to sustainable practices. Rather than just presenting sustainable gift guides, I wanted to delve into eco-friendly practices for December and beyond, by measuring our progress, setting goals for the coming year, and mitigating waste during holiday celebrations. From green milestones and lessons learned to renewing environmental commitments, the journey involves not just individual changes but also advocating for systemic alterations. Let’s celebrate not only the joy of the season but also our commitment to a healthier planet.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please share them with me in the comments or on Instagram

Ready to Join me on this journey? If you’d like to get a free eBook (Simplify & Thrive: A Practical Guide to Minimalism, Sustainable Living, and Zero Waste Wisdom), get exclusive content, please sign up for my zero waste | minimalist newsletter. If you’d like to keep up to date on new posts Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


#EcoFriendlyDecember #SustainableCelebration #GreenLiving