The holiday season can be a time of joy, time spent with friends and family, gift giving, good food, and rewatching our favorite comfort movies. It’s also a time when thinking about and acting on sustainable alternatives is important!
Holidays bring about plastic and paper waste, increased travel emissions, food waste, and the never-ending debate over plastic versus real trees. Check out some our tips for navigating this holiday season as sustainably as possible!
We’ve talked about the importance of shopping local for our food, but shopping local for gifts is also important! Keeping our shopping to our local, small businesses helps support the local economy. Additionally, shopping locally minimizes carbon emissions because travel is minimized for consumers and purveyors. Supporting small, local businesses also helps to sustain our town centers and can help reduce sprawl and automobile use!
Food waste is a major issues even outside of the holiday season- about 40% of all food produced in the US never gets eaten. This amount increases by an additional 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years! Here are a couple of easy ways to minimize your food waste:
Plan ahead! Figure out your menu ahead of time and plan for the amount of people who will be attending your event. Try and plan foods that you will enjoy eating as leftovers or can repurpose into other dishes (like turkey soup, curry, or sandwiches!). Consider doing more plant-based options for an increased impact!
Compost! Any of the raw fruit and vegetable scraps created in the cooking of your delicious feast can go into your compost bin to be turned into compost for you to use during the next planting season! Learn more about composting in SLC here.
Send people home with leftovers! Tell your guests to bring their own to-go containers to help you eat through any remaining leftovers.
Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday for those practicing vegetarianism or veganism- with food being such a focal point and the main dish often being meat based. While there are other ways to contribute towards a sustainable lifestyle, how we eat is a major player in our individual carbon footprints. In Utah, these choices contribute to nearly 25% of our household carbon footprint. Learn more about Dining with Discretion and the importance of understanding the intricacy of our food systems!
A vegetarian Thanksgiving can be easy, there are vegetarian/vegan roasts you can get at the store, but there’s something about creating a flavorful dish to share with your guests that took preparation and dedication. We wanted to make this holiday a little easier for our vegetarian and vegan friends this year so we made a menu, just for you!
It’s almost Halloween- a holiday of costumes, candy, and decorations! But can we do that sustainably? We sure can and we’re here to give you some fun, helpful ideas!
Decorations can create a lot of waste with items that we don’t always reuse. Similar to other holidays, invest in decorations you can use year after year, or create decorations using items you already have! Check out these ideas for decorations we made using stuff from around the home. And don’t forget, you can compost your pumpkins after the festivities as long as there’s no wax or paint on them!
During the holiday rush, sustainability may not be the first thing on your mind. Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure your festivities are more eco-friendly and sustainable.
No matter how you celebrate, we at SLCgreen hope you find this information helpful and wish you the best of times and a very happy New Year!
One great option for your home Christmas tree is a live native potted tree. When you’re done with it, plant it after the holidays or let it live on as a house plant. As an added bonus, a live tree will absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen for cleaner air.
Check with your local nursery or garden center for advice on the best type of tree, depending if you are planning to replant or keep it inside. If you can, hold off and plant it in late March or early April. This will increase the tree’s chance of surviving long term.
When stringing up lights this season, think “less is more.” For the lights you do put up, go for LED lights, which are 80-95% more efficient than traditional bulbs and will last longer. (This is a good reminder to switch out any other traditional light bulbs you may have in your home for LEDs too!)
Make sure you have your lights on a timer so they only are on when you want them to be. Some LED Christmas lights are even solar powered!
SLCgreen is wishing you a healthy and happy holiday! During this time of year, we’ve been reflecting on the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced as a community brought on by the pandemic, hurricane-force windstorm and earthquake. This year, we’ve worked alongside our community members to continue essential City operations and services and step up efforts to help those who have been impacted the most by the devastating pandemic. More than ever before, we are witnessing the evidence of an undeniable connection between environmental justice and social equity.
SLCgreen’s mission is to protect our natural resources, reduce pollution, slow climate change, and establish a path toward greater resiliency and vitality for all aspects of our community. Our environmental work goes hand in hand with the efforts to improve equity in Salt Lake City.
There is always a lot to do during the holidays, but before we tuck into our plant-based Thanksgiving dinners or go find the second-hand treasures to complete our holiday look, we want to take a minute to count our blessings and thank you!
Without your engagement in sustainable actions and participation in SLCgreen’s programs, we could not have the positive impact we do.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to think “What I do doesn’t matter” or “What difference is one person going to make?” But when you take that individual impact and add it up on a community scale, those little sustainability actions really do make a difference!
Take recycling. We can vouch for the impact all of you have on the thousands of tons of waste diverted from our landfill each year to recycling and compost.
So today, please join us in celebrating these aspects of our community that help us be stronger and more sustainable.
We’re always thankful for recycling!
Salt Lake City is working towards our zero waste goals.In June, we recycled 585 tons of cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard. To put this in perspective, this saved the equivalent of 5,732 mature trees, 2,238 cubic yards of landfill airspace, enough water to meet the daily needs of 41,625 people, and enough electricity to fulfill the annual needs of 175 homes! All this recycling helped us avoid 2,018 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes for cleaner air too!
Multiply those numbers by 12 and you have the average impact of Salt Lake City’s curbside recycling program over the year.
Your recycling is making a difference! Thank you!
We know that recycling has been in the news a lot lately. It’s gotten confusing. Some people are even wondering whether it’s “worth it” anymore. Numbers like the above remind us just how important it is. Thank you for continuing to recycle.
Here are some easy ways to keep up the good recycling habits this holiday season:
If you’re hosting a holiday party, consider using reusable dishes. We know that can be a challenge! Check out our small event recycling guide so that your guests know exactly what should go in the blue bin when it’s party time!
When you’re serving up the cranberry sauce or making pumpkin pie, make sure to clean your aluminum cans and put them in the recycling bin: Aluminum can be recycled over and over, and goes towards making everything from bikes to new cans!
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is #SmallBusinessSaturday. Buying locally-made goods supports our economy and is often a more sustainable way to shop. When you shop at a small local business, you support local artisans and business owners and reduce the environmental impacts associated with shipping and packaging!
One of our favorite places to find the most delicious treats is the Downtown Farmers Market. Their Winter Farmers Market is in full swing. Be sure to check out the local vendors for your holiday cooking and gift giving needs!
We want to take a minute to thank our SLCgreen team! Our readers, residents of Salt Lake City and beyond, are helping us reach our goals when it comes to reducing waste and building more sustainable communities. We hope you have a wonderful and sustainable holiday season!
Here are some tips for a more sustainable holiday season.
Gifts Use recycled wrapping paper! Get creative and make your own with old maps, newspaper, photographs, or paper bags. Here are some more fun ideas!
Give experiences instead of material items. Think a visit to a museum, garden, or aviary, or a ski pass, a yoga or cooking class, a gift certificate to a spa or a ticket to a ballet or sporting event. Or consider donating to an organization on behalf of someone. Make gifts or buy gifts made of recycled materials. If you are going to buy gifts, support local businesses including our e2 businesses which are both local and green!
Food Make sustainable food choices like buying from local growers. Stock up on holiday staples at this weekend’s Winter Market Saturday from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Rio Grande Train Depot.
Incorporate vegan dishes into your holiday traditions. Be creative with leftovers and reduce food waste. Also, use reusable tableware and be sure to recycle glass and cans.
Decorations Here are some fun decorating ideas: String popcorn and cranberries together to make festive decor. Make paper chains with recycled newspapers or magazines and homemade ornaments out of recycled holiday cards. Cut bows from shrubs and trees in your yard and make a homemade wreath. After the holidays, if you have a tree, please put it in the brown compost can.
Despite the unusually high temperatures, holiday season is upon us. Instead of being bogged down by the “buy, buy, buy,” we’re offering suggestions to help green your holidays.
Here are tips on creating your own gifts and reducing waste.
Gifts: ‘Tis the season for spending. But you can still give amazing gifts without draining your bank account. Consider donating to a non-profit organization on behalf of a loved one, upcycle items into trendy new gifts, or make your own lotions or soaps. From “Do It Yourself” green gifts to sustainable wrapping, our Green Holiday Pinterest board has suggestions to help create a more sustainable holiday season.
Another idea, create a SoKind Registry, which allows you to ask for secondhand, gently used and handmade items, you can even request something as simple as a helping hand. SoKind has a fun tagline to keep in mind this holiday season – “More fun, less stuff!”
Additionally, our Green Holiday Pinterest board has pins for minimizing the use of meat in recipes — vegetarian dishes have a lower environmental impact. And buy local! Pick up your local fresh vegetables from the Winter Farmer’s Market on December 20th, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Setting Your Table: Resist the urge to purchase single-use table settings. After their one use, they go right to the landfill where they take years to degrade (if they ever!) If you’re hosting, ask your guests to pitch in to help wash dishes. If you’re headed to a celebration away from your home, pack up some silverware, plates, and cups (or a water bottle) and bring them along. The extra ten seconds it takes to pack up your own dishes saves landfill space and energy.