I cannot believe a year has gone by since I became the Executive Director for Keep Liberty Beautiful. I have learned a lot about being “Green” and recycling … and still learning! I will attend a conference this week about recycling, litter prevention, beautification, and water conservation. The conference would also cover how to work with your community during the holiday season.
During the Christmas holiday we buy so many things to get ready for the holidays and to share with our family and friends. Cooking is a big deal during this time of the year. Trying new recipes and cooking Grandma’s homemade family favorite foods, is always a treat, but could lead to food waste.
Food waste is enormous during the holidays. At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year! Here are some minimal-effort recommendations to reduce your environmental footprint during the holidays while enjoying delicious meals and celebrations with your family and friends.
First, defrost your freezer and clean out your fridge before Christmas. They will work more efficiently and create more space to store leftover food, so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Plan. Plan now and try to rein in the urge to fix enough food for your entire neighborhood. Plan for what your family and guests can reasonably eat and enjoy. I love leftovers, but if you realize that you have more than you and your guests can eat, don’t throw away the leftovers! Make arrangements to take them to a local charity for people that may not be as fortunate as you and your family. Just remember to call first to make appropriate arrangements with the group you have selected.
Plan your shopping trips. This will help so that you do not waste gas. And please use reusable shopping bags. Note: if you never clean/wash your shopping bags, please do so, because bacteria can accumulate in them over time.
Buy in bulk, if you have numerous meals or a large crowd coming. Instead of purchasing cans of soda, small bags of chips, and serving-size baking supplies, stock up on bulk goods to reduce packaging waste.
Buy local or buy less. Produce bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimizing your carbon footprint. When you consider the journey some of your foods travel to get to you, there is an enormous amount of wear and tear on the environment in shipping those foods to you.
Buy organic or less processed foods, if possible. Consider preparing less meats and adding more vegetables. Meats actually require more processing that can affect the environment than vegetables do. Chicken, pork, and, especially, beef take a heavier toll on the environment than veggies. I will have some Christmas meats, but will not buy as much. Buy your fruit and vegetables ‘au natural’ and ditch all that wasteful plastic packaging.
Buy larger sizes instead of individual sized containers. Buy drinks in bigger bottles rather than small ones. One large bottle generates less waste than several smaller ones.
Use the real stuff. Please use ‘real’ plates, glasses, and napkins for your holiday parties and meals.
If there ever is a time when we can bring out the nice stuff, it should be the holidays. It is the one time when you have a bunch of extra dishwashers sitting around the table to help so when they offer to help, say “YES!”
Compost. Don’t forget to put the vegetable peelings, egg shells, etc., from your Christmas meals in your home compost bin. If you do not compost, some leftovers like coffee grounds can serve a further purpose. Save your grounds and once a week, spread them around soil around your plants. Your plants will love it!
Make every day an environmentally-kind day but certainly make the holidays a ‘green’ gift for our world. We all can help our community be a lot healthier, which would help our environment! Season’s Greeting and Happy Eating!
For more information on reducing, reusing, and recycling, please contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.