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holidays

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

There is, unfortunately, a lot of waste associated with the holidays. Between gifts, packaging and even food waste and packaging, Americans throw away an average of 25% more trash during this season. 

I know for me growing up, Christmas morning was filled with tons of wrapping paper and such. It was normal to grab a huge garbage bag after opening all of our gifts and stuffing as much as we could in there. Then it would go out to the curb for the garbage man to pick up! And this was normal. 

The good news is that there are a lot of creative ways to make that less. The change can begin with you!

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Food

Buy Less - Be Realistic: Plan Carefully so that you know exactly how much to buy. Realistically, not everyone will be eating a full serving of anything if there are a ton of choices, so consider making fewer dishes, or smaller amounts of each option.

Go Small: Use smaller plates and encourage self-serve to reduce unwanted food waste. There is nothing worse than seeing half a plate of food being thrown out!

Use Leftovers: Eat those leftovers, or if you still have a ton of untouched food, consider donating it.

Compost Food Scraps: I think this is pretty straightforward. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Gifts

Thoughtful Gift Giving: Practice the art of thoughtful gift giving. Don't give others something they won't be able to use, or give just something just because you feel obligated to. 

Give Experiences instead of Things That Can Be Wrapped. This is a great thing that can potentially lead to giving the gift of quality time! Gift things like tickets to something or plan a fun scavenger hunt. Be creative!

Be Creative with Wrapping: Skip conventional wrapping paper that you can find ample amounts of in the landfills every year. Wrap gifts with things such as scarves or newspaper. Try a kitchen towel or even a mason jar for kitchen gifts!

Find gifts that have less packaging: Edible gifts are great for this!

Consider skipping the Christmas Card: I love getting Christmas cards, and I love sending them as well. If you absolutely must send them, choose recyclable paper options. I know that they go in the trash and it's the thought that counts, but it is something to think about. 

Unique Ways To Minimize Your Waste This Holiday Season | www.maplealps.com

Decor

Recycle Your Christmas Tree: It's really a myth that plastic trees are better for the environment, as the material used is generally not good for the landfills. If gettng a tree, opt for a real tree if possible. Do some research about recycling trees in your area - many places turn your used Christmas Tree into mulch or wood chips to be used again. We like to use ours in the summer as firewood in our pit...

Be minimalistic with your decor. Yes, it's adorable to have reindeer chair covers and streamers, but do consider that less is more when it comes to Christmas decor. 

 
 

Being mindful of your waste production doesn't have to be hard over the holiday season! Practice all year, and you'll be a natural by the time the holidays roll through! How do you minimize your waste over the holidays?


 

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

There are plenty of gift-giving guides for when you want to give something to a minimalist, but what if a minimalist (or aspiring minimalist, like me) wants to give a gift? I had to really think about this!

Take Christmas, for example. It's around the corner and it seems that most people expect to receive a gift and give one in return. I’ve been caught in situations where I’ve had to give a gift, so I just grabbed something off the department store shelves with little thought as to why I was giving it. On the other hand, I’ve also received those same kinds of gifts. Full disclosure: those don’t often last long in my house at all. So why do we even bother?

When I give a gift now, I like to be intentional about it. I like to ask myself a few questions:

Why did I choose this particular gift?
Will my recipient value this gift?

How can I make this a meaningful experience?

With the gift-giving season right around the corner (and just coming out of one - can someone say weddings?), I thought I might share some of my thoughts and ideas on giving gifts.

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts | www.maplealps.com

 

Give the gift of an experience or time together

This is probably a great place to start. One of the coolest gifts we got as a wedding gift was a night out to see a Broadway musical. It was seriously cool, and it is a memory we still talk about to this day. Gifting experiences is a great idea and focuses more on your friendship than any material thing I can think of at this moment. Gift dinner reservations or unique local experiences or special events and make memories, not dust collectors.

 

Cash

I know it sounds impersonal and unromantic, but cash is way better to get than a gift card. It’s still tangible and doesn’t risk the use to being resold online or forgotten in a wallet. Plus, cash can still be used pretty much everywhere. There are creative ways to gift it too!

 

Something personalized and practical

If you still want to give something, you might want to consider giving something from the heart. Personalized items can still be practical. Put the “fun” in “functional” and explore options like personalized cutting boards or socks - okay, maybe not socks, but you get the idea. Thinking of needs and adding a personalized twist is, in my humble opinion, thoughtful!

 
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Give a charitable donation

There are many opportunities to give a charitable donation in your recipient's name. All it takes is one Google search.

 

Give a consumable

Ummm, who doesn’t love food? I haven’t met that person yet. I love this, because you can get really creative with it! Visit a foreign country? Bring a packaged specialty! Have you heard of gourmet olive oil? Because it's amazing. Love chocolate chip cookies? Put together a kit so they can make their own (you can even pair this with an experience and do it together)! The possibilities are endless and are so fun!

 

If there is a registry, stick to the registry

If you are going to a shower or a wedding, chances are the hosts have created a gift registry. Stick to it. They know what they need, and if you want to stay true to helping others own only what they need, value, and what brings them joy, I highly suggest going that route.

 

So what about receiving gifts?

Receiving gifts is a little tougher for me - especially now that we have downsized greatly and don’t wish to acquire more [useless] stuff. But I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

Explaining your “new way of life” to family and friends who normally shower you with gifts can be difficult, but not impossible. I see gift-giving as a way of sharing love, but gift-giving is not restricted to material things.

Your loved ones are called your loved ones because they love you. Trust that and make your expectations and intentions clear. They will be happy to support you. Isn’t that just what gift-giving is about anyway? Showing our love? They’ll be glad to do that however you decide!

Instead of saying, “I will not be collecting gifts this year,” and leaving it at that, why not give specific ideas to your loved ones about what they can give you. If you would like a charitable gift, set up a charity fund they can donate directly to, or pick a soup kitchen and request they accompany you too. If you want consumables, hand over your grocery list (I mean, why not?). If you think it will help, why not send them the link to this blog post? Whatever you choose, I’m sure they’ll think it’s a fabulous idea and they might start picking it up too!

 

 

What kinds of gifts do you like giving and receiving? Let me know in the comments!


 
 

Jumping into the Holiday Mood

HolidaysAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.

Dale Evans

When was the last time you took a moment, a break from your life and just… enjoyed? Enjoyed the world around you, the love that’s virtually everywhere, the beauty of what’s visible to the naked eye and beyond it? Exactly. Why have we collectively given up on all the joys around us and decided it’s way more important to hand in that report by Friday than listen to our kids jibber jabber about their latest cartoon obsession or help out with the Christmas decorations? Ah, yes, we’ve grown old(er) and, for some reason, that meant willingly giving up joy. Hey, maybe we don’t actually have to go through with it? What if, all it takes to bring joy, excitement and thrill back into our lives is to decide we will? Yes, let’s do it!

This Christmas, no matter how (seemingly) disinterested you seem to be, decide to make the best of it and jump into the Christmas spirit rapidly! After all, at Christmas, everything somehow gets softer and more beautiful. It’s like a magic is waved over this world and everything, suddenly, becomes better, lighter and happier.

Here, a simple guide that will help you get into the holiday mood and enjoy this season with your loved ones:

Go DIY on decorations

Buying decorations is super practical but making them is what’s adding to the wonderful Christmas spirit. Just imagine yourself and the kids sitting together, doing arts and crafts, coming up with the craziest shapes and forms for your tree and the entire house… doesn’t it sound wonderful? Apart from making unique decorations, you’ll get to spend time with your little ones, enjoy their gorgeous faces and brilliant minds, and have a chance to reconnect. These are the memories your kids will cherish forever.

Speaking of DIY, you can also go crazy on the Christmas outfits – make it a family project for everyone to design and sew (obviously, you’ll help out) their outfit, and wear it on Christmas day. Fun!

Bring on the scents

This holiday season, try to introduce some wonderful scents into your home, scents that will give power to the wonderful spirit of Christmas – think maple tree and cinnamon, pine tree and vanilla, apple and cypress, coconut and vanilla, peaches and honey, etc. These days, scented candles, air purifiers and scented air fresheners can do wonders for a room! While air purifiers will clean out the air you breathe, scented elements will give the space just the touch of smell you are hoping to get. How’s that for an instant Christmas thrill!

Cook, bake, eat

Remember when you were a child and you’d wake up to the scent of your grandma’s cinnamon pie? Wasn’t that, just, phenomenal? Well, let your kids make the same memories!

Come up with some super tasty Christmas recipes you’ll make for the family or find those treats that are not that hard to make and include your little ones into the process! You can make gingerbread together, cookies for the rest of the family (the more shapes the better), you can even let them take their pick and decide on what’s going to be the main delish… as long as you’re all included, as that’s what  Christmas is all about.

Watch a holiday movie

A Christmas movie night is a must! Make a list of all the movies your kids love to watch and gather together for a movie night. Get some popcorn and blankets, let the Christmas lights charm you into loosening up and enjoy this precious time.

It's true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, especially for moms (after all, it is mostly us who are doing all the work). But, as the very observant Caroline Kennedy put it “when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you'll find you've created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul”.

 

 


This was a guest post by Claire Hastings, who is a wanderer and a writer. She has written as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.

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