Zero Waste Winter Holidays

Winter holidays are approaching and many of us will celebrate Christmas and the end of the year. During this period it is probable that you will buy a lot of things, like presents and food. The risk of producing more waste than usual is around the corner. Therefore, why don’t we try shopping with a zero-waste mindset?

Bea Johnson is a Franco-American author, speaker and minimalist known for having started the movement of waste-free living in the 21st century. She started with a blog that then became a book (Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste) and now it’s a movement, the Zero Waste Movement.

Her philosophy is based on the 5 Rs principles, that are the core of Johnson’s zero-waste strategy:

  • Refuse – refuse to buy things which are unnecessarily packaged
  • Reduce – reduce the amount of items/ number of things you buy
  • Re-use – use things again, donate them, re-use packaging
  • Recycle – not only glass, plastic, and paper, but also aluminium, iron, cans, and tetra pack, depending also on the recycling policy in your region
  • Rot – compost green and kitchen waste
Go shopping well prepared

You can put these principles in practice by being aware of what you need to buy and by knowing how much you need of what you are going to buy.

Therefore, having a shopping list and trying to stick to it would be super good.

When shopping, don’t forget to bring with you your shopping bags, textile grocery bags, and food containers.

Before buying, remember these questions:

  • Do I really need to buy it?
  • —Can I use alternatives?
  • —Is it the right quantity?
  • —What can I do with it at the end of its life cycle? (Recycling, donating, re-using, composting)
  • —Is it available second hand?
  • —Is it available with less packaging?
  • —Is it available with no packaging at all?
  • —Can I borrow or rent it?

Remember that to achieve Zero Waste you shall buy with little packaging or no packaging at all! So, go for bulk shopping. And why don’t you go also for local and seasonal food? Is there a farmers’ market close to your place?

Reducing waste is a work in progress, therefore:
  • —  Start with small steps
  • —  Continuously assess where you are and see if there is some room for improvement
  • —  Evaluate advantages and disadvantage
  • —  Find out the opportunities in your neighbourhood
  • —  Test and try what works best for you
  • —  Be aware of time constraints
  • —  Involve others by sharing information, ideas and good practices

Winter holidays are also the time for organising events. Have you considered using jugs for water (tap water would be ideal)? And buying reusable plates, cutlery and glasses? On your glass, put your name, so you will use only one!

žYou don’t know what to wear? Think about a second hand shop or at a dress that you have forgotten at the bottom of your wardrobe. You could also think about renting one or borrowing that splendid dress you have seen from your friend.

Reducing your waste may be a beautiful challenge that can help humankind to live in a less polluted and cleaner world. Are you ready for this challenge?

For more on reducing waste, please visit my blog

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19 thoughts on “Zero Waste Winter Holidays

  1. Thank you, Cristiana, for sharing these valuable tips to help us reduce our degree of waste. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. 🙏

  2. When I lived in Egypt, I found that the Egyptians were probably the greatest recyclers. My wife never throws away anything. She either repairs it or repurposes everything. In Egypt, you can literally find a shop that repairs old suitcases. They will fix the handle, repair the zipper, add new lining. In America, we would throw those suitcases away. Everything is repurposed and repaired in Egypt. Google Egypt and you will find that it has one of the highest percentages of recycling old objects in the world. Read about the “Zabbaleen” and the part they play in recycling. It seems that the “developed” world can learn a lot from the “developing” world when it comes to helping to fix the trash problem. Cristiana, thanks for the post! I worry most about microplastics entering the food chain.

    1. Thank you Troy! I think that we are spoilt by all the goods available in our shops and that we can afford. And it’s easier to throw them away when they stop working or they break. Now in Brussels there is a project called Give Objects Another Life and groups of people repairs any sort of things. Second hand shops are flourishing all over also because people are getting poorer because of the inflation and the war.

  3. So many great suggestions—taken collectively it would be overwhelming. But I like your idea of starting with a slow and gentle approach and working up to the entirety. Bite sized pieces work for me! Thank you for some super ideas.

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