The 5 Easiest Eco-Friendly Swaps to Make This Year

Buh-bye 2018 because 2019 is upon us! If you haven’t gotten on the eco-friendly train yet… what are you waiting for?! I know it can be intimidating at first so (in honor of the new year) let’s take it back to basics. If you are completely new to the zero/low waste world, welcome, and let’s get started on THE simplest, easiest things you can do to start your journey this year.

  1. Ditch paper towels for both cleaning and dining. Have old hand towels, rags, those random towels you get at basketball games? Use them to mop up spills and clean your countertops. For dining, either grab a pack of cloth napkins or make your own using an old flat sheet. When they are dirty, throw it in your laundry, reuse, repeat. 
  2. Commit to taking your own bags to the grocery store. Seriously. It’s so easy to do. Keep both reusable produce bags and grocery bags (you know you have those free bags you’ve accumulated from random events) in your car. Use them.
  3. Keep a reusable stainless steel straw in your car or bag. Use it at restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, etc. and say “no, thank you” when handed a paper wrapped, plastic straw. 
  4. Switch from body wash in plastic containers with hard to recycle pumps to a bar soap. You can find unwrapped, locally made bar soaps at Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, Etsy, etc. It’s zero waste AND you’ll support a local small business — win, win. 
  5. Stop re-purchasing cling wrap, aluminum foil, plastic bags, and wax paper for cooking and storing food. Utilize reusable silicone baking mats, beeswax wraps, stasher bags, and repurposed glass condiment/jam jars.
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Link Round Up #35 (and Winter Solstice!)

Happy Winter Solstice! AKA the shortest day/longest night of the year… the official start of winter… and a time for new beginnings and rebirth. I’m celebrating this year by making a lovely dried orange (zero waste!) garland and doing a big old Italian dinner tonight. Whatever you celebrate… wishing you a happy, restful, holiday season.

Favorites from the week:

Reducing holiday food waste.

Orange zest shortbread cookies (for the leftovers from my dried orange garland making). Along with some pulled tea (my favorite kind of tea!).

Choose your own adventure holiday.

10 experiences to gift this holiday season.

8 women on choosing not to have kids.

Tech company ads and pregnancy loss (something very personal to me). 

2019 calendars.

10 sustainable engagement rings.

A Less Wasteful Gift Wrapping Guide

Brown paper packages tied up with strings… these are a few of my favorite things!

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy gift giving! So you picked out the perfect, thoughtful, mindful, gift — now what? I, like many others, love seeing beautifully wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. I also love watching the joy on people’s faces as they slowly (or not so slowly) unwrap their gifts. So how can we present beautiful gifts without producing waste that goes to the landfill? Here are your options! 

The Bad
First off — check to make sure your local recycling facility accepts wrapping paper. Most do with some caveats. If your wrapping paper has metallic accents or glitter, it is NOT recyclable. Also, bows, ribbons, tinsel, most tape, etc. are all trash. Basically, avoid getting super “extra” wrapping paper, sticking it together with shiny tape, and then putting bows and other things on it. 

The Good
As mentioned above, wrapping paper can be recycled if it doesn’t have metallic accents or glitter. So if you want to use wrapping paper, pick the simpler options at the store and recycle post-gift giving. The same goes for paper gift bags without any additional frills. The upside with plain gift bags is that they can be reused multiple times before being recycled. 

To wrap your present with wrapping paper, utilize washi (there are so many adorable, festive options) or kraft tape. 

The Better
If you’re going the wrapping paper route, you can do one better and use compostable kraft paper or eco-friendly gift wrap (like this one or this). Make sure to wrap with washi tape, kraft tape, or 100% cotton twine.

The Best
I always think the best option is what you already have. So if you have wrapping paper, old gift bags, beautiful shopping bags from Anthropologie, etc. — use those up first. However, if you are starting from scratch, there are some great zero waste wrapping options. Furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth), cloth produce bags, and mason jars are all useful and reusable. Add a little something extra with a small pine tree branch or beautiful leaves or acorns tied with twine. 

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The Less is Meera Holiday Gift Guide

First off — as much as I love minimalism and zero/low waste… I’m not going to tell you to forego gift giving. This is the one time of year that I enjoy giving (and receiving!) mindful gifts. But that’s the key word… mindful. Don’t go overboard with items and focus on high-quality items people will use, use up, or, at the very least, be able to keep for a very long time. Find items by small businesses on Etsy, items created sustainably/ethically/with recycled materials, and items that can nudge someone towards creating less waste. And don’t forget about experiences (concerts and sports) and non physical items (subscriptions). Happy holidays and happy (mindful) gift giving!

For the book/movie/music lover
Kindle Paperwhite
Audible subscription
Netflix, Hulu, or HBO subscription (given with bulk popcorn kernels and an earthenware popcorn bowl)
Cinemark Annual Cup and Tub Refill (given with a Cinemark gift card and stainless steel straw)
Beats by Dr. Dre Wireless Headphones

For the foodie/chef/eater
Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
Plaid cloth napkins or these adorable candy cane striped ones!
Rose gold stainless steel straws
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Wraps
Bodum Glass Tea Pot (given with a favorite loose leaf tea bought in bulk)

For the homebody/lover of cozy
Homebody by Joanna Gaines
milk + honey Home Fragrance
The Hygge Game
Recover Upcycled Socks (maybe given with the game above!)
Beeswax Candle Making Kit (perhaps with thrifted brass candlestick holders; I always see a ton of these at every thrift store I go to)
Holiday Tin Candle (I love the milk and cookies one! And the remaining tin is adorable for reuse.)
Five Year Keepsake Journals

For the beauty/skincare/bath lover
Lush Joy to the World Gift Set
Kristin Ess Silk Pillowcase Gift Set
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
bkr Water Bottle (because what’s better for your skin than water?)
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

For the world traveler
The Away Carry-On (my hands down favorite suitcase that I’m sure will last a lifetime)
Travel Adapter
Leather Travel Wallet
Everlane ReNew Fleece Sweatshirt (for him and her; great for cold flights!)
Airbnb gift card
Rifle Paper Co. Wanderlust Keds (I always travel with Keds! And these are adorable for the travel lover.)

For your four legged friends
West Paw Dog Toys
Bulk dog treats
DIY t-shirt dog toy
Recycled rope leash
A trip to the dog park or some place new!

For your two legged little ones
Hearth and Hand Modern Farmhouse Gifting Collection (love this wooden map puzzle!)
Membership to your local zoo, science museum, etc.
Candy Cane Stripe Jammies

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