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Host a Zero-Waste Holiday Party This Year

zero-waste holiday party

Every December is an occasion for celebration. Friends and family enjoy gathering to celebrate the holidays and new year, but you might be concerned about the impact these events could have on the planet.

Fortunately, a zero-waste holiday party is easy to host and fun to attend.  Here are a few of our top zero-waste tips for any holiday gathering!

Invitations

We live in the electronic age which means paper invitations are unnecessary. You can build a beautiful, individual invitation on a site like Paperless Post and send them along via email. In the invitation, you can explain your eco-friendly angle for the party and ask your guests to respect certain guiding principals as they prepare and attend the event.

Gifts

Even if you ask for no hostess gifts, many guests feel obligated to bring one. The best approach is to ask that if people do feel inclined to bring a gift, give it the sustainable way. Suggest that they bring repurposed items, bring items that can be used up, or regift something they already have. Suggest that they leave it unwrapped, or wrap with fabric or recycled paper. Skip the bows and opt for reusable string, twine or no ribbon at all!

Dishes

When it comes time for refreshments, use real plates, silverware and glasses instead of disposable paper or plastic. Avoid paper napkins as well and opt for cloth that can be easily washed. Cloth dinner and cocktail napkins are easy to make with scrap fabric and add a nice touch to a holiday party. If you need to purchase reusable dishes or glasses, check your local thrift store for mix ‘n’ match options.

Decorations

The key to zero-waste decorations is to rely on nature’s beauty during this time of year. Potted plants and flowers brighten up any space. Soy or beeswax votives in reusable glass jars provide a soft, non-toxic light, and accents like river stones add a unique touch. Homemade wreaths, garlands and pinecones are an easy way to bring the outdoors in and add natural fragrance to the room.

Food

When it comes to refreshments, organic, locally produced food is always your best option. This is true not just for your holiday party, but for every day of the week! Many recipes can be made ahead of time. Get healthy recipe ideas here.

As you plan your zero-waste holiday party remember that it can be as complex or simple as you want. The key is to use these guidelines as a foundation and let your guests know what to expect ahead of time.

 

 

Sustainable Stocking Stuffers for the Holidays

sustainable stocking stuffer

The holidays are a joyous season, but unfortunately they can wreak havoc on the environment. If you’re trying to reduce your environmental footprint, then you’ll want to make sure to have an eco-friendly Christmas.

With a little planning, it’s possible to purchase eco-friendly gifts and sustainable stocking stuffers for everyone on your list. Here are our top 8 picks for this holiday season:

1. Reusable Bulk Bags

Eliminate plastic bags once and for all with these reusable bulk bags from Flip & Tumble. Made from 100% cotton with a zip top, these bags are perfect for bulk items, travel or organizing around your home. From the store to the farmer’s market, this is a gift that will be used year-round.

2. Sustainable Bee’s Wrap

This natural food wrap from Bee’s Wrap eliminates the need for plastic wrap and baggies. These beeswax wraps are reusable, biodegradable, compostable, and perfect for covering bowls or wrapping foods. Bring a wrap along as a host/hostess gift to holiday parties.

3. Fair-Trade Lotion

This organic and certified fair trade lotion from Dr. Bronner’s is a perfect addition to any sustainable stocking. Nourish and hydrate skin with organic jojoba oil to heal, organic coconut oil to moisturize, and organic hemp and avocado oils to keep skin smooth. Made from essential oils instead of conventional fragrance, and not tested on animals.

4. Zero-Waste Laundry Detergent

Perfect for the traveler, this zero-waste laundry detergent from The Simply Co. is organic and all natural! Founder Lauren Singer lives a zero-waste lifestyle and hasn’t sent any trash to a landfill since 2012, which she documents in her blog, Trash is for Tossers. The best part of this three-ingredient simple detergent: no packaging heads to the landfill.

5. Handcrafted Beeswax Candles

Enjoy the natural honey fragrance infused straight from the hive to the wax. Place these votive candles from Big Dipper Wax Works into recycled glass jars for the perfect upcycled gift or stocking stuffer.

6. Fair-Trade Chocolate

Chocolate makes the perfect addition to any gift. We love this fair trade, organic chocolate from Alter Eco. Their sustainable practices and eco-friendly packaging are guilt free.

7. Organic Loose-Leaf Tea

Packed in a reusable and recyclable stainless steel tin, this organic tea from Desta fits easily into any stocking. This premium tea line supports sustainable farming and fair trade. Desta believes that providing organic and biodynamic teas are important for their customers’ health and their deep commitment to protect the planet.

8. Reusable Containers

There are many thoughtful gifts to help reduce single-use baggies and containers. Give bento boxessmall containers or reusable snack bags, along with a bamboo utensil and stainless steel straws. And everyone should always carry a reusable water bottle and an insulated coffee tumbler!

Looking for more waste-free holiday tips? Check out our Pinterest page for more of our favorite ideas!

Fancy Fruit Kabobs With A Side Of Cheese & Crackers

fruit kabobs

Fancy Fruit Kabobs With A Side Of Cheese & Crackers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Fruit Kabobs: Makes 5 kabobs

1 cup of grapes

1 cup pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup cantaloupe, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup honeydew melon, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup strawberries

Package of wood skewers (like these)

Sweet Greek Yogurt Dip

½ cup plain greek yogurt

1 Tbsp Organic Honey or Agave

Cheese & Crackers

8 whole wheat crackers

1 cup cheese, cut into bite size cubes

Directions

  1. Slice all fruit into bite size pieces. Take a toothpick and alternate spearing fruit until full.  Continue process until all the fruit has been used.  Pack into divided rectangle container.
  2. Mix ½ cup plain greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp of organic honey or agave. Pack into a stainless steel mini container for kabob dipping.
  3. Place crackers into a medium square container. Pack cubed cheese into medium round nesting container.
  4. Pack containers into your insulated lunch tote and add an ice pack and reusable water bottle!

 

 

The Truth About Recycling

recycling

Refusing single-use plastics is one of the most important actions we can take for the health of our planet.  According to Plastic Pollution Coalition, there is proof that recycling and other waste-management processes will not address the plastic problem.

Thanks to our partner 5 Gyres, we’re reminded not to rely on recycling to get us out of the waste mess. Here are a few top facts that uncover the truth about recycling:

  • Plastic products get downcycled every time they are “recycled” (unlike metal or glass) making them less valuable. Eventually these products go to a landfill.
  • Since 1964, plastic production has increased by more than 2,000% and our recycling facilities can’t keep up. As a result, some of the plastic waste that we’ve tossed in the recycling bin gets exported. In 2011, China imported nearly half of America’s plastic waste.
  • Virgin plastic is sometimes less expensive to use than its recycled counterparts. In these cases, manufacturers choose non-recycled materials to save money.
  • In countries like India, much of our exported trash becomes landfilled or gets incinerated. This creates devastating water and air pollution, and serious health problems.
  • Compostables are not the answer.

What’s the Solution?

The only solution is to use less single-use plastic. Reduce disposable plastics and refuse the top five sources of plastic waste: plastic bags, water bottles, to-go containers, to-go cups, and straws. Many reusable solutions are available to kick the single-use habit. Take the 5 Gyres Pledge today and go #plasticfree.

New to U Konserve?  Here’s what customers are saying about their U Konserve products:

“We use the lunch bags and steel containers, cloth napkins and steel straws daily. I remember eating apple slices from a glass jar that my grandmother placed my snacks in as a child. She understood plastics affect our food. Thank you for sharing your vigilance and vision in sustainable, safe food containers!”

For other waste-free solutions check out our Pinterest page full of our favorite ideas!

8 Tips to Enjoy the Holiday Season

holiday

As the holiday season moves into full swing, remember it is easy to overextend yourself. The fun, the family, the celebrations, and the dash to finish things up before the end of the year is exciting. But more often than not, all that energy and excitement can leave you feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overindulged.

What if, instead of getting sucked into the never-ending holiday hype, you approached the season as an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year?

Here are 8 tips to help you experience more peace and enjoyment this holiday season.

1. Move your body

When your schedule starts to get busy and you run out of time, exercise is often the first item to get dropped from the to-do list. Rearrange your busy schedule and get creative with your limited time. Take walks during your lunch break or plan your holiday gathering with friends at a yoga studio instead of a restaurant.

2. Hydrate

Holiday dinners and parties often tempt us with unhealthy foods and drinks. Try to seek out healthy alternatives and be conscious of how you’re feeling. And don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle in case you attend a holiday event with single-use plastic cups.

3. Shop Mindfully and Slowly

Slow down and buck the trend of frenzied and mindless holiday shopping. Avoid the temptation of falling into the marketing trap of the holiday season. Resist buying something just because it’s on sale. Think carefully about your purchases, choose more meaningful gifts, and choose products that lessen your overall impact on the environment. Get more ideas here.

4. Take Breaks

Schedule time every week during the holidays just for you. Use this time to do what brings you joy and remember you are a human being not a human doing.

5. Travel Off-Peak

If your schedule allows, travel during off-peak days and hours. This way you’ll avoid the stress of the holiday travel crowds.

6. Don’t Overschedule Your Time

It is ok to say no to holiday parties and get-togethers. If you’ve been invited to multiple events on the same day, say yes to the one you will most enjoy. This way you are more present for the event and people you are with.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Get enough sleep to be the healthiest, happiest and most engaging version of you. Don’t forget that the recommended seven hours of sleep still apply during the holidays.

8. Be Grateful

If you’re reading this post, there’s a likelihood that you have more people, experiences and things in your life to be grateful for than you can possibly count. So start counting, pause, reflect and give thanks for all of the great blessings in your life.

Black Friday Purchases that Change Habits

This is a tough one…we want to get our products in the hands of as many people as possible to help eliminate single-use waste, but we also want to balance that with a message of slowing down the mindless shopping frenzy that starts on Black Friday and continues through the holiday season.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you care deeply about the environment and make thoughtful decisions every day that align with these values…so keep it up. While planning and completing your holiday shopping this year, continue to be mindful of the following:

Resist buying something just because it’s on sale

Black Friday is the biggest day of the year for discount shopping. Shoppers expect great deals at deep discounts. But we often neglect to think about the true cost of our purchases, especially when they are irresistibly cheap. The average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste every year which usually ends up in landfills.

Choose more meaningful gifts

Some of the best gifts come with the most thought behind them. Experiences, hand drawn pictures, and thoughtful handwritten cards have been some of our favorite gifts over the years. Remember the theme of the season is to spend quality time with loved ones, so slow down and give them the gift of your presence. Give to non-profits in the name of your friend or family member. Make thoughtful homemade gifts that have a much lower impact on the planet. Sew, bake, get creative. See our ideas here.

Honor the cause

Choose products that lessen your overall impact on the environment. Shop from Certified B Corporations that work hard to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. And of course give the gift of reuse! Make cookies, breads, candied nuts, loose teas, herbs, olives or other holiday treats and package them in reusable containers.

To purchase with a purpose this holiday weekend, enjoy 20% off all U Konserve products, including sale items, with coupon: PURPOSE20. Starts Friday, 11/25.  Ends Monday, 11/28. Online only.

The Sustainable Thanksgiving Table

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Whether you are hosting or visiting with friends or family, we love having personal touches on our table. Involve your children by working on homemade crafts to add to the meaning of the holiday.

Homemade Place Cards

Thanksgiving is not a meal you have every day. You may only see these friends or family members on special occasions. So make it personal and special by setting the table with thoughtful, homemade place cards.

Give your kids a list of all the guests who will be in attendance or offer to bring the place cards to whoever is hosting. Start with some recycled card stock, cut into 7” x 5” rectangles and let the creativity flow. Get ideas from these homemade place cards.

Thankful Placemats

Share why you’re thankful at your dinner table by making placemats out of recycled butcher paper. Ask your kids to write the statement, “I am thankful for” on the top of each with 3-5 lines or bullet points. Maybe they include a word of gratitude at each place setting. See a Thanksgiving placemat example here.

As your meal is getting started or wrapping up ask guests to fill in the blanks and then share around the table. This is an easy way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into your meal.

Natural Table Decorations

Traditional Fall colors are beautiful on a Thanksgiving table. Hunt around your garden for eucalyptus, rosemary, olive or other holiday leaves. Add branches, lavender, gourds, berries or other natural decorations. No need to purchase anything that gets tossed into landfill, use your natural decorations all season, then add to the compost bin after the holidays. See some beautiful, natural Thanksgiving table decorations here.

Looking for more Thanksgiving inspiration? Visit our Pinterest Board full of ideas for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!

Waste-Free Thanksgiving Tips for the Holiday Season

waste-free thanksgiving

The holiday season is beginning! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this year we want to make sure you enjoy a waste-free Thanksgiving while treading lightly on the environment.

The USDA estimates that on average, American consumers waste about one-fifth of the food that is available to them. By following the few steps we’ve listed below, you can easily enjoy a waste-free Thanksgiving.

Plan Ahead

Planning is key to hosting a successful waste-free Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t let the holiday overwhelm, instead plan ahead by making sure you:

  1. If you’re having a large gathering try to get a firm headcount of who will be attending so you can better prepare while shopping and cooking.
  2. Get organized by going through your cabinets for any ingredients, especially canned foods, that can be donated to your nearest food pantry.
  3. Make sure you have a list of food your guests are bringing so there are no duplicate dishes, and consider options for guests with food sensitivities.

Use Scraps

When cooking many different dishes there are bound to be food scraps that go to waste. Make a difference this year! There are ways to use (almost) your entire turkey and set aside a compost pile for your vegetable and other compost-friendly scraps.

BYO Reusable Container

As you are inviting guests, remind them to bring their own leftover containers with them. This cuts down on leftovers going to waste and single-use plastic container waste. Enjoy 20% off glass and stainless steel nesting trios, the perfect BYO reusable containers for the holidays!

Host a Leftover Party

If you have leftovers you don’t want to eat but don’t want to waste, we have a solution. Make a day out of it and host a leftover party. Turn leftovers into pizza, soups or a potluck of leftovers from other Thanksgiving dinners.

For more waste-free Thanksgiving ideas, including DIY decorations, head over to our Pinterest Board.

Wellness Tips for Fall as the Seasons Change

wellness

Fall can be a challenging adjustment on your health and wellness after the long, warm days of Summer sunshine. With shorter hours of daylight and cooler weather, Fall can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

However, by following a few of these wellness tips you can keep your health in check and enjoy the change in season.

Enjoy Time Outside

This is the time of year where our daylight hours seem to fly by. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D via sunshine by taking a quick walk at lunch and spending your weekends outside. Planning a day trip or weekend getaway to go hiking or exploring with friends and family is a great way to enjoy autumn and all that it has to offer.

Avoid the “Office Germs”

Is everyone around you sick? Avoid catching the sickness that seems to be going around by making sure you:

  • Get enough sleep. As the time changes and daylight become shorter, try and get your body on a regular sleep cycle that provides you 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, hot herbal teas, natural juices and smoothies.
  • Don’t over commit yourself and your family. Use this time before the holidays to slow down and spend quality time with loved ones. Instead of a night out, opt for a night in. Invite friends and family over for a potluck or game night!

Shop the Farmers Market for In-Season Veggies

Keep your health up by eating seasonal veggies like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, kale and squash. Pumpkin is another seasonal superfood that packs a punch!

Autumn is an ideal season to spend some time in the kitchen preparing your favorite nourishing foods. Hot foods such as soups and casseroles are easy to prepare and are seasonal comfort foods. Enjoy our favorite hot dishes with ideas from our Pinterest board!

 

5 Reasons We Love the Tiny House Movement

tiny house

Tiny Houses have taken over home TV shows, the internet, and many home and garden magazines. But what exactly is the tiny house movement? Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is about 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny is between 100 and 400 square feet.

You may be shaking your head asking why would people want to downsize to such small quarters. So we’ve compiled a list of 5 reasons we love the tiny house movement.

Smaller Environmental Impact

Due to the size of micro homes, they can generally be completely powered by solar panels at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. Through the proper application of green technology, it would be possible to live net-zero and completely off the grid in a tiny home. This infographic does a great job highlighting all the ways tiny houses reduce energy costs and allow your house to be self-sufficient.

Less Expensive

Tiny houses cost less in general. Since the houses are smaller, so are the mortgages and utility bills that go along with it. Young adults buying their first property are better able to afford these houses as well as people looking to downsize and save. 68% of tiny house people have no mortgage compared to 29.3% of all U.S. homeowners!

More Time & Freedom

Simply put, when you have a smaller living space there is less to clean and less time put into maintenance. This leaves more time for activities you enjoy and more time with friends and family.

Less Clutter and Less Waste

Living in a smaller space leaves less storage room in general. With the success of books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, people have been decluttering items that don’t bring them joy. A tiny house means keeping what you really use and getting rid of excess “stuff” that doesn’t serve a purpose. Less space also forces us to purchase with intention and seek out durable, long-lasting items that take the place of other wasteful alternatives.

More Connection and Communication

Smaller living spaces mean fewer places to go when a disagreement arises.  Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell of Living Large in Our Little House puts it best when she says, “Not having room to spread out anymore took some getting used to, but now I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t want to go back to us living in separate rooms, and not really communicating or spending time together.”

So how do you know if tiny is for you? Rent or stay overnight in a tiny house or stay at a tiny hotel like this one and see how you like it! Also check out our Pinterest board full of our favorite tiny houses and inspiration for going smaller.