As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to share some tips to make the holidays creative, fun, and environmentally responsible. While these are just some of the things I do during the holidays, I encourage anyone with more ideas to submit a comment below!
Almost all of the fall and winter holidays focus on eating, and at the center of the table there is often a turkey, ham or roast. Unfortunately, meat production is a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. While going vegan is the best option (Tofurkey, anyone?), you can reduce your footprint by buying local and sustainably-raised animal products. Many local and sustainable meat producers sell at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday and Saturday, Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms, and the Food Hub.
But being a conscientious carnivore goes beyond the main dish – scrutinize the sides! For example, swap the chicken broth for veggie stock in the mashed potatoes. My favorite cookbook at the moment is the expletive-riddled Thug Kitchen. I salivated over these recipes for two days before I realized they were all vegan – yeah, it’s that good! The blog has some holiday classics like stuffing and cranberry sauce. I promise no one will know its vegan!
Skip the cheap plastic toys. Seriously, don’t buy it! Mother Earth has a severe plastic problem: discarded plastic is a hazard for wildlife and a lot of plastics are made with hormone-disrupting chemicals that can hurt a child’s development. Also, beware of make-up and popular personal-care products because many of those products contain lead and other toxins.
The Farmer’s Market is a good source for locally made gifts from vendors who really know what’s in their products. Also, the Village of East Davenport is home to several small businesses and artisans. You can find perfect unique gifts for your family while directly supporting the Quad Cities community.
If you are crafty, who doesn’t love a handmade hat, scarf, blanket, or whatever else you can whip up. You can even find local wool at the Farmer’s Market and some of the locally owned yarn boutiques, The Yarn Shoppe and Knit & Knot are my favorites. For more ideas, the Sierra Club magazine has several gift-worthy do it yourself crafts.
It’s A Wrap!
Did you know a lot of wrapping paper isn’t recyclable? Don’t buy laminated wrapping paper with a glossy coating because that is plastic and you can’t recycle it. And if someone gives you naughty plastic paper, try not to tear it apart, save it for wrapping next year.
Or ditch the disposable wrapping paper all together. A few years ago, my mom gave me the book “Wrapagami: The Art of Fabric Gift Wraps” by Jennifer Playford. Like origami, the book shows you how to decoratively fold and tie fabric squares around gifts of all shapes and sizes. Now I troll thrift stores for retro scarves to wrap up presents – which add a vintage touch to the holiday decorations. Alternatively, you can create gift bags from seasonal fabric to keep in the family year after year, like in the documentary “The Clean Bin Project,” which you can borrow from our Film Library.
If you have more ideas to make the holidays greener than the pine trees, add a comment below!