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Novel Ideas for the Holiday Season

December 16, 2014

The Holiday Meal

Wasted food has substantial economic, environmental, and social impacts on communities and the environment. Producing food in the United States uses 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, consumes as much as 80% of its freshwater, and generates some 13% of this country’s carbon pollution emissions. Yet, 40% of our food purchases go uneaten. In 2011, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated nationwide, 96% of which was disposed in landfills or incinerators.  Meanwhile, more than 14% of households in the U.S. are food insecure in 2012.

I confess I haven’t tried these yet, but definitely look forward to checking them out. FreshPaper sheets are infused with organic spices that reportedly keep fruits and vegetables fresh for two-to-four times longer. Place one of the FreshPaper sheets in the bottom of the refrigerator drawer, in a sack, or a carton, fill with your veggies and this natural process will keep them fresh longer. And, the FreshPaper sheets are recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable. This novel idea can be purchased online through Fenugreen, the company that manufactures them, or at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Stop & Shop.

CropMobster is a free service that links communities, organizations, and individuals in need with local farmers, producers, and food purveyors who can quickly sell or donate excess produce. The service leverages social media—Facebook and Twitter—and “instant alerts” to spread the word about local food surpluses from any supplier in the food chain—from growers to food manufacturers. This novel idea is a way to provide food to those who need it, help local businesses recover their costs, prevent food waste, and help to bring our communities together. While currently operating largely on the West Coast, seems like a model that could work anywhere. Perhaps an app that can be used anywhere?

Looking for food waste reduction tips for your friends, family, and community? Check out the West Coast Climate and Material Management Forum and US Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Too Good To Waste Toolkit.

 Holiday Decorating and Gifts

Junk Mail Gems offers a wide range of holiday gifts made out of junk mail. The website also has “do-it-yourself” instructions for making your own gifts, holiday ornaments, and other items out of junk mail.

More ways to use junk mail – be adventuresome! Try making a decorative bowl…

Spending time with kids this holiday season? Try these kid-friendly activities: making placemats for your holiday meals and using tissue and wrapping paper to make bouquets.

Trying to reduce and reuse for your holidays, check out “Buy Nothing Christmas” for ideas.

Uncommon Goods offers unique gifts. The company is dedicated to promoting items which are sustainable, socially-responsible, and environmentally-friendly. Uncommon Goods specializes in gifts made from recycled materials, organically-derived, and handmade.

Eco-Artware is another company offering environmentally-friendly gifts. It features items which are handcrafted from recycled, natural, and vegan-friendly materials.

Eco-Mall has been around for two decades now, featuring all manner of upcycled and recycled gift options.

 Remember the simple things this holiday season-

  • Creative giving – movie tickets, family outing events, donations in honor of a family member or friend, the gift of service (walking a dog, doing chores, etc.)...and more!
  • Bring your reusable bags with you!
  • Shop local!

Holiday Cheers!

Athena Lee Bradley

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